Director: Seth Gordon
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Priyanka Chopra, Kelly Rohrbach, Ilfenesh Hadera, Jon Bass, and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II
It's summertime, the beaches are open, and the water is nice. If this were the mid-90's the moment you arrived to the beach the soundtrack to your day would include the theme song to "Baywatch", the lifeguard beach drama that consistently remained serious through its 12 year run yet also wore its silliness like a badge of honor. Making a cultural icon, again, out of David Hasselhoff and solidifying Pamela Anderson as the sex symbol of the 90's, "Baywatch" was one of the most watched television shows of the time.
The foolish and sexy characteristics of the television show are combined for a modern day remake starring Dwayne Johnson. Placing more emphasis on the comedic elements and the action sequences, the 2017 "Baywatch" wants to have a whole lot of fun, and for the first twenty minutes it actually accomplishes just that. But very quickly it turns into something similar to a blooper reel, lots of the same jokes told in different ways without much of a story.
Mitch Buchanan (Dwayne Johnson) is a no-nonsense tough guy with a perfect physique who's work as a lifeguard on the Bay is the stuff of legend. Matt Brody (Zac Efron) is a former Olympic swimming champion, also with a perfect physique, who has fallen on hard times because of his selfish, hard partying ways. Mitch is forced to add Matt to his team and the two immediately bump heads. While the new lifeguard team is working out their growing pains, a crime wave is bringing trouble to the Bay.
For those looking for a tame comedy with the somewhat risqué appeal that made the television show such a guilty pleasure, this film is not for you. The language warrants a hard R rating, the jokes are raunchy, and the sight gags are crude. It's a sign of the times for bigger comedies in the multiplex these days. For those that love films like last year's "Vacation" remake or another television remake "21 Jump Street", you'll be thoroughly entertained by "Baywatch".
Dwayne Johnson, who seems to be in everything these days, is the perfect character to lead this film. He has the masculinity to pull off the action hero attitude and the charm that has sold comedy for him since his wrestling days. Add the stunning good looks of Zac Efron to the mix, place them in a situation to ridicule one another, and you have at least 15 minutes of scenes for your film right there. Unfortunately most of their jokes have been done before, some that both Mr. Johnson and Mr. Efron have done better in other films. Also, Mr. Efron's comedic efforts aren't utilized to their potential here, he has played this cocky character before and it would seem a perfect match across from a wisecracking character Dwayne Johnson is playing as Mitch Buchanan. Instead his character moves along the usual arc of self-realiance, self-realization, and redemption in the most basic of developments.
After the first act the jokes get a little stale, the characters get less interesting, and the story moves in every familiar direction these action-comedy films could go. Even the cameos, which you know are coming, are completely uninteresting. "Baywatch" attempts to build on the indulgent quality the television series offered but instead opts for lazy comedy and boring action.
1.75 out of 5.00