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1/4/18

BAYWATCH - REVIEW


Loosely based on the popular 90's television series, Baywatch is a blockbuster comedy starring Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron as lifeguards who investigate a potential drug lord suspected of conducting their business around the beach.

The comedic approach to Baywatch makes sense: everyone knows how silly the show was and everyone made fun of it to a certain extent back when it was on, even if you enjoyed it. Friends celebrated its goofiness back in the 90's and there have been countless spoofs since, including a memorable cameo by David Hasselhoff in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. Unfortunately, dated TV shows rarely translate all that well into big blockbusters: CHiPs (also released last year) got panned, everyone forgot there even was an A-Team movie and the Starsky & Hutch movie didn't exactly re-invent cinema, though it was admittedly a fun watch. With a project like this, arguably the best approach is to take a page from Airplane!'s book and play it straight, never acknowledging the surrounding absurdity thereby staying true to the source material while still poking fun at it. Baywatch doesn't do that and, instead, re-imagines the show as a modern vulgar, gross-out action movie with big CGI'ed set-pieces, random improv comedy and dick jokes aplenty.

Believe it or not, all this could have worked had the film at least tried to create some likeable characters and kept some of the show's naive charm intact. Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron have shown good comic timing in the past (Pain & Gain, Neighbors) but they are insufferable in this. This movie is basically these two guys measuring their penises on the screen for two hours and it's just not interesting or funny or clever or charming in any conceivable way. The first 45 minutes are wasted on pointless, often annoying character interactions and, when the plot finally kicks in, it never evolves into something worthwhile. That said, Priyanka Chopra, who deserves much, much better than this movie, by the way, does a decent job as the intimidating villain and the drug plot sounds like something the show did a few times so the seeds of a proper Baywatch movie were there, they just failed to grow under all the (hilarious?) dead body jokes, awful cameos, sub-par performances and insulting writing. Add to that some ugly special effects, a Logan Paul cameo and Zac Efron in drag and you've got yourself one of 2017's worst excuses for a movie.

There's no excuse for making such a bad adaptation of Baywatch, a TV show that's ripe for parody yet also deserving of a minimum of effort since it was a phenomenon at one point. This movie is unfunny, grossly miscast, its characters are lifeless joke puppets you wouldn't even pretend to save if you knew CPR and it makes 22 Jump Street look like The Godfather: Part II.

Let it drown.

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