Baywatch is directed by Seth Gordon and stars Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra and Alexanda Daddario.
Comedy movies come in different varieties: parody, satire, slapstick, mockumentary, spoof, goofy hijinks and physical comedy and then there’s movies like Baywatch which don’t really fit any of these sub-genres because they aren’t enjoyable to watch, they don’t have any theme or focus and worst of all, they aren’t funny.
Based on the curiously successful Baywatch TV show, which actually played itself as a straight drama, the Baywatch movie mixes it up into an outrageous, R-rated comedy that is obsessed with crude language, dick jokes and a group of life guards who take themselves and their beach patrol far too seriously. It’s not enough that they are out there patrolling the waters for drowning swimmers, dangerous fish and the occasional beach thief – that’s actually the real work that real life guards do in the real world and there is nothing boring or humdrum about it. No, instead Dwayne Johnson appears to be almost psychotically obsessed with catching drug-running criminals, calling himself a lieutenant in whatever police or army unit he obviously was Section 8’d out of. Throughout the movie, he ignores the actual police, but this isn’t too hard since the entire police force appears to consist of only one cop who never misses an opportuntity to remind Johnson and his team that they are not police officers. Regardless, Johnson’s character is literally an overgrown Boy Scout – pursuing truth, justice and a hardbody tan. Zac Efron fits in as the goofy sidekick and target for Johnson’s endless taunting and the rest of the cast randomly appear here and there for either random sex jokes or to be sexy hard bodies who are pretending to make a difference.
It’s not hard to understand why this movie sucks as bad as it does. It went through numerous rewrites, including changing the plot from the team fighting environmental pollution in the bay to fighting drug runners instead, with Dwayne Johnson apparently the driving force behind getting the movie produced and having to pull in no less than seven different production companies to fund it. The chaos behind the scenes is reflected in the hackneyed plot, dead-on-arrival jokes and stereotypical characters. Zac Efron actually starts out as a semi-interesting, Ryan-Lochte-inspired Olympic gold medal swimmer who lost everything because of his hard partying and inability to be a team player, but about half-way through the movie he’s been so bedazzled by Johnson’s “we’re a family” mantra that he fully commits to Johnson’s little crime fighting cult and then appears to lose half his brain and common sense in the process, acting like a moron through most of the rest of the film.
Baywatch was never a good TV show but somehow had appeal in syndication to the lowest common denominator TV watcher, in the same way that Duck Dynasty and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo managed to stay on air for so many years. It’s the theater of the absurd with no real value and which you feel kind of dirty just watching because it’s obviously catering to people who have nothing better to do with their lives than watch other people tell dick jokes. Actually, there’s nothing wrong with a good dick joke, but I don’t think I need to have one literally in my face over and over again because Seth Gordon thinks he’s been trendy or cool.
As though it wasn’t obvious, I’m giving this movie a rating of Total Suckage. I wish I could get that hour and a half back to have done something more entertaining or productive, and I’m pretty sure you’re going to feel the same way if you go see this twaddle. There are literally just no redeeming qualities to this film, except maybe the fact that it employed some people for a few months who otherwise would have been freed up to make something actually relevant to…anyone. In six months, no one is going to remember this movie, nor should they. It’s best that it just be forgotten and we’ll never speak of it again.
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