Alright, so for those of you that somehow don’t know, BAYWATCH was a very campy 90’s TV show about hot and busty women running in slow-mo, and David Hasselhoff. I couldn’t tell you much beyond that because I didn’t actually watch the show as a kid. Wasn’t appropriate, I guess. I don’t know.
But here we are. The show is long dead and now we somehow needed a movie about that. We really didn’t, but hot men and women definitely sell tickets. For all the wrong reasons in this case, I’m sure, but fine. It’s here, let’s get on with it. I’m not excited, I think this is going to hurt, but here we go.
Starring in this eye-candy factory, we have Dwayne Johnson (THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS , MOANA , and upcoming films JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE  and RAMPAGE ), Zac Efron (MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES , and the upcoming THE DISASTER ARTIST ), and Priyanka Chopra (PLANES , TV show QUANTICO, and video game MARVEL AVENGERS ACADEMY).
In support, we have Alexandra Daddario (THE CHOICE , and the upcoming SAN ANDREAS 2, due out… who knows when), Kelly Rohrbach (TV show RIZZOLI & ISLES), Ilfenesh Hadera (CHI-RAQ , OLD BOY , and TV show MASTER OF NONE), Jon Bass (LOVING ), and Rob Heubel (HOW TO BE A LATIN LOVER , KEANU , and THE OTHER GUYS ).
Now for the crew. Directing is Seth Gordon, known for IDENTITY THIEF (2013), HORRIBLE BOSSES (2011), and TV show THE GOLDBERGS. Co-writing the script are Damian Shannon and Mark Swift (FRIDAY THE 13TH  and FREDDY VS. JASON ). Composing the score is Christopher Lennertz, known for SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE (2017), MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2 (2016), and video game MASS EFFECT 3. Finally, the cinematographer is Eric Steelberg, known for MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN (2014), UP IN THE AIR (2009), and JUNO (2007).
Overall… no. Just… just no.
This is my honest opinion of: BAYWATCH
Baywatch are the elite lifeguards of the beach, and with the legendary Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) on constant watch, it’s no surprise. And with a few new recruits under his wing, including the cocky former Olympian Matt Brody (Zac Efron), which the two definitely don’t get along, Mitch is going to need all the help he can get. Turns out, not only is there a strong of illegal drugs being found on the beach, but dead bodies are turning up as well, and Mitch has a strong feeling that a locally famous businesswoman named Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra) may be involved somehow. But while the cops are bogged down by red tape, Mitch and his crew of lifeguards decide to take matters into their own hands and figure out why people are dying.
I admit that I think it’s better than I originally figured, but it’s still not good.
First off, I’m going to take a wild guess here. Even though the show was probably known for making fit men and women as eye-candy, I’m going to assume that it never really went over-the-top with it. The show was at its core, a drama. Which means that it took its content seriously. I won’t say the show was dark or didn’t have a sense of humor, I’m sure it had comedy laced throughout, but I highly doubt that it was the focus. I imagine the show was as if Sports Illustrated was a soap opera. Here… eh.
I’m calling it, I think this movie is more or less supposed to be a mockery of the Baywatch license. Clearly, this movie is exploiting its most famous elements: slow-mo titillating running featuring hot men and women. The problem is, it’s not a good mockery. It doesn’t make clever jokes. If you were told Hollywood was making a parody of Baywatch, what’s the first set of jokes that would come to mind? Someone comments on why characters appear in bullet-time, gratuitous shots of boobs and asses, it’s all bare-bones comedy and what you’d expect, and that’s not a good thing. If you can guess the jokes before they happen, or not be surprised by the jokes they use, then no one thought the jokes through. And tossing in raunchy words to earn that R-rating is both tacky and unnecessary. Believe it or not, comedy writers, swear words aren’t automatically funny. Yeah, if I can look at this movie and automatically know that this doesn’t do the original show justice despite having never seen the show in bulk, then you know there’s something wrong with the movie.
But how about I stop making comparisons between the movie and TV show because I can’t keep that up before someone starts calling me wrong and correcting me. Never mind that it’s a mostly unfunny comedy, you want to really know what lights a fire under my ass about this movie? It’s basically a buddy-cop film. I’m dead serious. This movie has every single one of those clichés. Angry captain, cop is assigned a new-guy partner that he doesn’t want, but forced to take him under his wing anyway, they don’t get along but eventually find common ground, one of them is a screw-up who can’t do anything right, they do things off the book and outside the law because the rule book gets in the way, and there’s no time to wait, with a few forced romances that you could give two craps about. Yeah, it’s all in this movie. Just replace “cop” with “lifeguard.”
Let’s get to the actual movie, shall we? The first problem arises when you learn that Mitch has had over 500 confirmed rescues in his career. Over 500?! This must be the most dangerous damn beach in the world if so many people need rescuing. Of course, isn’t the world record for most lifeguard saves over 900? What do I know, right? And not that I know anything about being a lifeguard, but there are still things about the profession presented here that seem way too ridiculous. In the establishing shots of the beach and Mitch’s skills, he sees a wind-surfer and immediately starts rushing in his direction to save him. Mind you, the surfer is not in any trouble yet. But as soon as he hits the wrong wave, that’s when he falls and needs saving, at which point, Mitch is already diving into the ocean after him. So, what, he’s so good that he can predict an accident before it even happens? Give me a break.
There’s admitted some jokes that I’m a bit iffy on. There’s a bit where Matt is staring at Summer’s (Alexandra Daddario) breasts. It’s obvious and they do this back and forth, “Are you staring at my boobs?” “I… was not.” “You so were.” At some point, Summer even bounces her boobs as a “test” to see if he was staring, to which he does, big surprise. I don’t know, this joke feels like a blow to women not being objectified and that a woman is pouring fuel on that fire feels particularly lame. But I suppose another argument could be that it’s still making fun of the stereotype of… I don’t know, men staring at a woman’s tits right in front of her. I don’t think it’s funny. Maybe if these two characters had a history and pre-established connection, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but it’s literally just a dude being a pig and a woman who almost finds his horniness charming. Hell, she falls for him in the end having done very little to earn her affections.
I also didn’t need to look at dead man penises, body fat going in Efron’s mouth – which, by the way, he has a mask and doesn’t put it on, the dumb-fuck -, a cross-dressing Efron that doesn’t make sense even in context of the scene, there’s just so much of this movie that doesn’t work.
Even some of the few good elements have inconsistencies to them. About the only character I enjoyed seeing on screen was usually Ronnie (Jon Bass), the token fat guy of the movie. One bit that got me howling with laughter was when he starts choking on food, then his long-time crush C.J. (Kelly Rohrbach) gives him the Heimlich maneuver, saving his life. After a slow-mo shot of her ass looking like she’s humping him, it’s pointed out that he has an erection. For whatever reason, I laughed so hard when he realized what was happening and then he belly-flopped into a wooden beach chair, but his erection was so hard that his penis broke through the wood and he got stuck. There’s a good two to three minutes of just making fun of his pain and it’s hilarious. I’m usually not a fan of this type of humor, but Bass really sells his misery and it’s amazing to watch.
There’s another scene where he’s showering in the nude singing what I can only assume is a Katy Perry song and then C.J. walks in and he starts freaking out. Turns out, Ronnie didn’t realize that the showers are co-ed and as he uncomfortably tries to pass himself off as cool and show that he’s comfortable with showing her his penis, she laughs at him and tells him that everyone showers with their suits on. Most of the comedy is on Bass’ shoulders and he has some pretty rich reactions to everything that he doesn’t want to do.
But of course, even Ronnie is written inconsistently. He has a scene where he dances all impressively with Leeds, which confuses me. I would think anyone that can dance like that wouldn’t have a single problem talking to women. Oh, but did I forget to mention that the first time he interacts with C.J. in the movie? Yeah, get this, he does that cliché where he can’t speak a single word. I really hate nerdy characters who can’t talk to hot women. It’s an old and tiring trope. But I especially hate it when it’s a character who has something that would otherwise inspire a little self-confidence, such as dancing really well, isn’t enough to get him to break out of his own bubble.
Overall, I don’t like this movie. I guess I’m not too angry with it because I didn’t think I’d enjoy it anyway, and I didn’t expect it to be good. I admit, a few gags got me laughing, but a comedy needs to be funny for the duration of the story and I need to be invested in the characters. It’s not funny, and I don’t care what happens to these characters, so I can’t enjoy it. If you like raunchy, by-the-numbers buddy-cop flicks, then I guess you’ll be fine. But if you’re anything like me and you prefer your comedies with a brain and some out-of-the-box creativity, then this isn’t for you. I guess if you’re uber curious, make it a rental, but not in theaters.
My honest rating for BAYWATCH: 2/5