The Baywatch movie reboot, while totally unnecessary, should have been the action-comedy of the summer; unfortunately, this film is anything but. No amount of Dwayne Johnson could save this drowning project.
Baywatch tells the story of Mitch Buchanan (Dwayne Johnson), the leader of an elite team of lifeguards. Each and every year, Mitch hires a couple of new recruits, and this is where the cocky and air-headed Matt Brody (Zac Efron) comes in. The straight-and-narrow Buchanan obviously butts heads with the selfish attitude of Brody, and the team has to deal with that fallout.
As the lifeguard dynamic is shifting, Buchanan (somehow) discovers that club owner Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra) is running drugs into the beach and trying to make the entire town her own private resort. It's up to Baywatch to save the day - even though it's technically not their job. At all.
Throughout the entire film, the characters argue about where a lifeguard's duties begin and end. Each and every time Buchanan leads the team into danger, there's some big to-do about whether they should be there or not. This conversation/gag/whatever you want to call it, is the definition of beating a dead horse, and that pretty much sums up the entire Baywatch movie.
There is a lack of identity throughout Baywatch, which translates to floundering direction in the final product, as the film never really knows what it wants to be. Throughout the first half of the movie, the characters seem to take the plot - and their supposed lifeguard duties - very seriously. There are jokes throughout, but the stakes are high for these characters, and they act accordingly. By the time the third act rolls around, that notion is reversed, and the movie seems to be a parody of the previous hour.
The pacing doesn't help this issue, as the movie often turns into an awkward episode of Family Guy, letting an un-funny gag go on for minutes at a time. In a span of ten minutes, this movie will take you from a scene of serious dialogue, to an action sequence, then pause to spend 2 minutes talking about genitalia, and wrap up with someone doing something in slow motion. It never feels very cohesive, or ever complete.
Indeed, Seth Gordon's (Horrible Bosses) direction needs a lot of work, but it's the script that really sinks the movie to new lows. Every joke falls flat, mainly because we've heard them all before. Yes, Dwayne Johnson's junk is probably huge, we get it; yes, Zac Efron looks like he was in a boy band. Most of the comedic dialogue feels incredibly recycled in this way.
This story moves from one point to another, with no explanation of how it gets there, or why. It's like every plot point simply exists to get the characters from a sex-gag to a woman in a bikini, and back again. Eventually, you realize that the story doesn't actually matter at all. This wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, if the jokes didn't fall totally flat - it's as if this script came from a middle school boy's Baywatch fan-fiction, as the jokes and girls are the only thing it seems to care about.
If there is one positive aspect to this movie, it's the cast. Everyone gels together nicely, and the chemistry between Johnson and Efron is spot-on. It was abundantly clear that every actor in the movie was giving it their all, no matter how bad the material was. Johnson, Efron, Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, Ilfenesh Hadera, John Bass, Yaha Abdul-Mateen II - all of the performers turn in admirable and inspired performances - and they deserved much, much, better than this.
Some films can have problems with structure, story, dialogue, all of the above, and still find a way to make people chuckle. Baywatch falls short of even tha mark, as it was a struggle to pull even the faintest laugh out of this mess of a film.
The Baywatch movie could have - and should have - been the summer adventure we'd all hoped it would be. Unfortunately, it's not even close.
Baywatch is now in theaters, and runs for 1 hour 56 min. It's rated R for crude sexual content, language throughout, and graphic male nudity.
Rating: 1 Out of 5 Stars
Photos Credit: Paramount Pictures