Saturday, May 27, 2017

Movie Review: "Baywatch" (2017)

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Director: Seth Gordon
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 56 minutes

A team of lifeguards attempts to solve a series of crimes that have happened at their beach...even though it's not their job.

"Baywatch" is directed by Seth Gordon, who has made other comedies such as "Horrible Bosses" and "Identity Thief." It is based on the long-running television series of the same name that first began in 1989. The "Baywatch" lifeguard team is made up of Mitch Buchannon, played by Dwayne Johnson, CJ Parker, played by Kelly Rohrbach, and Stephanie Holden, played by Ilfenesh Hadera. They bring in a trio of new recruits, including the clearly qualified Summer Quinn, played by Alexandra Daddario, the seemingly out-of-shape tech nerd with a lot of heart named Ronnie Greenbaum, played by Jon Bass, and the arrogant two-time Olympic gold medalist named Ryan Lochte...oops, we mean Matt Brody, played by Zac Efron. Mitch has saved over 500 lives while working as a lifeguard and loves to go above and beyond the call of duty. When drugs and bodies start washing up on their shores, he believes it is up to him and his team to solve these crimes, though his boss and the police are constantly telling him it's not his job or his place to do so.

This movie is one of those self-aware TV-to-movie adaptations that takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to a concept that was initially meant as a drama. The people making and starring in this movie know lifeguards solving crimes is absurd, and they constantly point out how ridiculous it is, yet they continue doing it because, without it, there would be no movie. If that angle was played even remotely properly, Gordon and co. probably could have developed a fairly smart and witty comedy. Unfortunately for "Baywatch," nothing is played right, and instead of going for something truly amusing and clever, the myriad of writers who worked on this project repeatedly go for the lowest hanging fruit possible with an overabundance of dick and boob jokes and a slew of sexist fodder. This is a flick that relies heavily on cringe comedy, and as charming as Dwayne Johnson is, even he struggles to elevate the humor in this picture. When a scene featuring someone's penis getting stuck in a beach chair goes on and on for over seven minutes very early on in a movie, you know you're in for an unpleasant viewing experience. Some people will like this kind of overly crass humor, but we tend to like our dick jokes a little more elevated.

The best thing "Baywatch" has going for it is ironic, well angled slow-motion shots of the over-the-top action, and a running joke about a miniature Dwayne Johnson statue in a fish tank moving positions to aid specific scenes. This humor is incidental and is always a second or third rate gag, but it's infinitely more clever and humorous than the main running jokes, which we liken to turds washing up on the beach, unfunny, vomit-inducing, and disgusting. Most of these jokes fall flat on their faces like a downed lifeguard running in high heels through the sand. The actors stand around and stare at the actresses they are paired with, and that's it. None of the women in this movie get anything substantial to do other than being eye candy, despite there being interesting plot points introduced about them over and over, only to have them dropped by the wayside as quickly as they were introduced. Priyanka Chopra is absolutely wasted as this film's villain, and quite frankly, she deserves better. We sure as hell know Dwayne Johnson deserves better.

We went into "Baywatch" really hoping to laugh a lot and to be surprised by one of the summer's first comedy films, but only experienced the occasional moment of very, very mild amusement. If jokes about taints being flicked for the sole purpose of being filmed for blackmail is your type of humor, give "Baywatch" your money. Otherwise, we say pass, and go re-watch "21 Jump Street."

My Rating: 3/10
BigJ's Rating: 3/10
IMDB's Rating: ~5.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~19%
Do we recommend this movie: AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!

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