Release date: 29th May 2017/Watch the trailer here
Continuing the trend of rebooting ’80s and ’90s TV shows and making them into movies that share little in common with their source material other than the name – started by 2012’s (surprisingly quite good) 21 Jump Street – comes Baywatch, from Horrible Bosses director Seth Gordon.
The first problem of the many, many problems that Baywatch suffers from is that no amount of Dwayne Johnson being his usual, charming self and attractive people running on the beach in slow-motion can make up for an insubstantial plot. Things start harmlessly enough: devoted lifeguard Mitch Buchannon (Johnson) leads a group of lifeguards in Emerald Bay, Florida; made up of CJ (Kelly Rohrbach), Stephanie (Ilfenesh Hadera) and new recruits Ronnie (Jon Bass), Summer (Alexandra Daddario) and Matt Brody (Zac Efron). Mitch immediately clashes with Brody, a former Olympic gold medalist who suffered a very public fall from grace, and thus joined the Baywatch team as part of his community service (to get a better idea of the character, refer to literally every other character Efron has played in the past three years). Admittedly, at this point in the film, the laughs are still few and far between, revolving predominantly around penis jokes, racial stereotypes, and more penis jokes – but the occasional meta moment (‘Why does she always look like she’s running in slow-mo?’) and the even more occasional joke that actually lands ensures there are at least a couple of chuckles, which is more than can be said for the film’s second half.
The trouble is, Baywatch isn’t just a 10-minute spoof video that’s been uploaded to YouTube; it’s a feature-length film and it’s been stretched out over two entire hours, which is truly a remarkable feat when you take into account its paper-thin plot. It has something to do with drug-dealing and real estate and a flimsy ‘villain’, Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra), and somewhere along the way characters will learn life lessons, experience personal growth, get the girl, and then there will be explosions, because of course there will be.
Baywatch can never decide whether it wants to be a raunchy, R-rated comedy or your typical guns, explosions and Dwayne Johnson-punching-people summer blockbuster movie, and as a result it utterly fails at both, with jokes that aren’t funny and action that isn’t exciting. It doesn’t even work as a fresh reboot, because there’s not one thing about Baywatch that doesn’t feel stale, right down to its regressive sense of humour, where the pinnacle of hilarity is a man kissing another man, or a boob joke, or a joke about fat people, or – you get the picture. Eventually, Baywatch gives up completely and resorts to simply just showing the audience a penis and hoping that somebody will laugh – which feels like a pretty appropriate way to sum up the movie, actually.