Thursday, June 8, 2017

BAYWATCH (2017)

Written by Damian Shannon & Mark Swift


Directed by Seth Gordon


Where & When: Springdale Cinema De Lux 18, Cincinnati, OH, May 30, 2017 4:15 PM



"Baywatch" is the latest in a long (mostly tragic) line of bringing popular television programs of yore to the big screen. I must admit I've never watched a complete episode but I was aware of this campy show that focused on the relationships between sexy, LA lifeguards who patrol the beaches saving lives from the many dangers that lurk there; sharks, murderers, surfer gangs and occasionally preventing someone from drowning. With very little attention paid to thoughtful development and execution, this banal spoof makes the TV show seem sharp and tasteful.

Dwayne Johnson has taken over in a variation of the role that David Hasselhoff played on the series as Lt. Mitch Buchannon, a beloved lifeguard who has saved hundreds of lives on the beaches of Florida. With his second-in-command, Stephanie (Ilfenesh Hadera) and veteran crew-member, C.J. (Kelly Rohrbach) by his side, they work together to keep people safe from harm.

In search of new lifeguards, tryouts are held and Ronnie (Jon Bass), a sweet, doughy nerd, dreams of being a hero of the beach like Mitch and getting to work closely with the beautiful C.J. who leaves him completely tongue-tied. All recruits must pass a rigorous physical test to be selected but Matt Brody (Zac Efron) rides in on his motorcycle informing Mitch that his boss, Captain Thorpe (Rob Huebel) said he already has a position on the team. This won't fly with Mitch and doesn't care that the cocky but dim, Brody is a former Olympic swimmer. But Brody went from hero to zero after a race he swam hungover, earning him the nickname, "the Vomit Comet"

It's not much of a surprise that there is tension and rivalry between Mitch and Brody with the veteran lifeguard proving that the two-time, gold-metal winning Olympian is not the natural, all-around athlete as he claims. But Mitch decides to give him a chance along with Ronnie and Summer (Alexandra Daddario), a pretty surfer that has caught Brody's eye, in the training program.

Drugs wash up on shore and businesswoman Victoria Leeds (played by Priyanka Chopra with expert cartoon villainy) is running them out of her chic country club. So it's up to Mitch and his team to stop her and save the community.

What is most surprising about "Baywatch" is that the story and script had six people involved in it's creation yet the outcome remains shockingly messy and tedious. The lame jokes sink and the CGI-heavy action sequences are waterlogged. After previously helming the middling films, "Four Christmases", "Identity Thief" and "Horrible Bosses", the direction here by Seth Gordon continues his trend of lazy, scattershot work.

Let's keep it real; nobody really watched this show to see David Hasselhoff running around the beach to save the day. It was all about the shapely Pamela Anderson in her skimpy red swimsuit delivering a wooden performance as C.J. that had viewers tuning in to "Baywatch". Another surprise with this film is that the female lifeguards, while quite lovely , are bland and unmemorable. So in a turn for equal sexism, this version of "Baywatch" is all about ogling the buff bodies of our male leads. With an immense charm that's just as powerful as his bulging biceps, Mr. Johnson brings his reliably easy-going vibe that's much needed yet it's not enough to keep this afloat. Beyond flaunting his admittedly impressive abs, Mr Efron's main purpose here is to be the butt of numerous jokes and gags. Some of the indignities he suffers through involves him touching a corpse's penis, having the rotting bodily fluids of another dead body drip in to his mouth and sadly parading around in unconvincing drag.

"Baywatch" tries to impress like a suntanned, muscular body ripped on steroids but all it will leave you feeling is like somebody just kicked sand in your face.