“Baywatch” is directed by Seth Gordon and stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Priyanka Chopra, and Jon Bass. The film is based on the 1989 television show of the same name that starred David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson and is about a gold medalist swimmer attempting to become a lifeguard who is countered by the man running the show, and together they must uncover some mysterious criminal events going on surrounding the beach.
While I certainly didn’t expect anything crazy, the trailers, mostly the red band trailer, gave me some hope that this ridiculous concept could actually be funny. Combine that with the pure charisma from both Zac Efron and The Rock, and I came in hoping for a movie that wouldn’t take itself too seriously and for a movie that just would make me laugh.
The Rock, as always, does his thing and does it very well in this movie. Johnson is the witty, charming man that he seems to do in every film now, but it still works just as well here. His back and forths with Zac Efron’s character are some of the highlight moments in the movie, and The Rock once again elevates everyone around him simply by his presence.
Surprisingly, I quite liked the character played by Jon Bass, as I was almost sure he’d be the character I hated the most. Bass is able to stand with these stars and bring some of the funniest scenes to life, and I found his character to be a nice switch-up in the overall storyline. Kelly Rohrbach also does solid work here, as her chemistry with Bass is great, and I found her to be the best female character in the movie by a large margin.
When the comedy works in this movie it works on the power of its stars. The Rock has a way of making even the most generic of lines something worth smiling at, and Efron can do the same thing with his charming delivery and wittiness. There are a few standout moments that got quite a large laugh out of me, most of which from humor involving male genitalia that, while incredibly cheap, paid off pretty well.
Sadly, the best comedy in the film is still very cheap, easy humor that only gets my chuckles out of spite, as there is not one real smart moment of comedy from start to finish. 100 percent of the jokes in the film are penis jokes, boob jokes, reference jokes, or vulgarity, and these work with a very low success rate as the movie progresses. At first, sure, I will laugh at a few easy jokes, but the writing gets so stale by the halfway point and becomes downright annoying towards the final act.
Alexandra Daddario is a lovely woman, I’m sure, but she does not have a very strong performance here at all, with many of her lines coming off with zero personality to them whatsoever. She had some decent chemistry with Efron at times, but for the most part, I found her to be a completely bland character giving a performance that adds nothing to the story but a pretty face to look at.
Daddario may have been subpar, but she is Marlon Brando in “The Godfather” compared to the horrifically bad villain, played by Priyanka Chopra. In a movie about sexy lifeguards, this villain could have been so cheesy and over the top, while still bringing some solid comedy, but instead, Chopra does none of these things, phoning in a boring, dull, entirely lifeless performance that makes the movie slow to a halt whenever she is on screen.
The largest issue that “Baywatch” has is the thing that should have been the easiest: the movie doesn’t know if it wants to be taken seriously or not. The answer should be simple, no, but with Efron’s weak background that is never elaborated on, boring expositional scenes about drugs and real estate that make enough sense to look as if they’re trying, Seth Gordon never fully embraces this ludicrous source material to its fullest, and it makes the comedy suffer and the movie feel long in the tooth.
Speaking of length, my goodness the runtime of this movie is asinine. 116 minutes is about a half hour too long, with many of the dull, boring moments used as an attempt of making this movie serious could be completely cut out with no harm to the film at all. There are plenty of side stories and weak efforts at comedy that could have easily been shaved off to make this a quick, fun movie instead of the unfunny slog it turned out to be.
I certainly didn’t come into the film looking for award-caliber effects, but that is no excuse to make the CGI and action sequences look like absolute garbage. Scenes involving fires and fireworks look like they were made in Microsoft Paint, and the camera is jumpy and overly edited in all of the moments of action, and when you have people like The Rock and Efron, there was really no need for this, and it just lowers the value of even the simplest of scenes.
Another note, and this one may be the most scarring, but from a male perspective, you show me the premise, you show me the incredibly attractive women, and you show me the R rating, you know that I am putting those puzzle pieces together in my head, so the fact that the only nudity in this film is from the male side is downright diabolical filmmaking.
The Rock and Efron do their absolute best, but it is just not enough to save this deeply flawed movie. “Baywatch” is not nearly funny enough, as the humor is of the simplest form, and the storyline takes itself way too seriously and goes on absurdly long. I am incredibly disappointed about just how much fun I did not have watching this movie, as this film slows to a near halt after thirty minutes and almost never picks up again. “Baywatch” is a tremendous letdown, and is a tedious film that lacks the comedic prowess it should have easily had.
Get tickets and showtimes for “Baywatch” here (in theaters 5/26)
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