Posted May 31 2017

Baywatch - This Beached Whale Of A Movie Doesn't Rock

Dir: Seth Gordon

Starring Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, Jon Bass, David Hasselhoff, Pamela Anderson

Is this rapidly turning into the summer of “Well, it’s not as bad…?” Just a few days back we opened our Pirates 5 missive with the line “Well, it’s not as bad as the last one…” Now, for Baywatch, the best with can muster is “Well, it’s not as bad as it could have been…” But it’s still pretty bad.

Once again we are in the “bad idea” territory of Hollywood where some sad executive or two thinks that audiences recognising a title will lead to bums on seats. (Yeah, worked for Chips, The A Team, Bewitched, Car 54 Were Are You? I Spy, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. – NOT!) Yet if one of these barely related do-overs does manage to break through, they seem to think lightning will strike again.

21 Jump Street is the new template here – unwisely, as the success of that film had nothing to do with the original show or fond memories for same, but was due to winning casting and a script that took leaps into post-ironic/bugger the TV show territory courtesy of writer-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller.

Here, they at least have the winning casting right – both Dwayne and Zac ooze charisma and know how to play. But that’s about as far as it goes.

Yes, they’ve gone for the post-ironic take on the old show, but here that is less about the smarts that Lord and Miller deliver, and simply about adding F-bombs and dick jokes. It’s almost as if someone came up with an equation that reads – “crass (to the power of “fuck”) + crude (“dick” cubed) = funny” – but it’s not an equation that can be proved on the strength of this. (Indeed, we seem to be in a low period for mainstream American comedy that hasn’t been seen since the banality of the early 1960s.)

Moving on – here we have Dwayne the Cock as the ultra beefcake lifeguard who – somewhat ridiculously – sees himself as the savour of all mankind (or at least all mankind in a skimpy bikini or a pair of Speedos.) We know this because in the first few minutes alone he is referred to as Superman, Batman and Aquaman – what the producers want us to understand is that –despite this being a re-tread of an old David Hasselhoff TV show – The Rock is a superhero. Enter Zac Efron as the “ordinary” (although also seriously pumped) Olympic gold medallist who proved his lack of devotion to the team by vomiting in the pool during an Olympian relay race. Guess what? They don’t get on! Guess what?? By the end -they do!!

That’s about it really. In between there’s some nonsense about drug deals “on their turf” and everyone gets to walk in slow mo – with their boobs on display, both male and female to be fair – A LOT! Indeed, one of the few redeeming things about Gordon’s movie is how much it is an equal opportunity ogle-fest – all bodies here are on display and highly pneumatic, irrespective of gender.

But it’s by no mean enough to recommend this witless, cheap and remarkably obvious alleged comedy. It could be worse. Given the current state of comedy cinema however, it was never likely to be better.

Remember when Animal House was considered base? Just look at it now!


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