Break out the sunscreen. The buff and bouncy lifeguards of Emerald Bay hit the big screen in a goofball adaptation of the 90’s TV series. Baywatch embraces its trite source material with gusto. Hamming up the absurdity, but failing to deliver consistent laughs throughout. There are a few humorous moments that earn the R-rating. Unfortunately the vast majority of edgy content is the cast dropping F-bombs. Baywatch has the expected eye-candy, but is not clever or well made. It does not reach the level of 21 Jump Street or Chips.
Dwayne Johnson stars as Mitch Buchannon, the overzealous team leader of a renowned lifeguard squad. He’s got three new recruits, Ronnie (Jon Bass), a nerdy IT guy obsessed with the statuesque blonde C.J. (Kelly Rohrbach); Summer (Alexandra Daddario), a sarcastic surfer, and Matt Brody (Zac Efron), a disgraced Olympic swimmer on probation. Brody does not fit into the gung-ho, crime-solving mentality of the team. He butts heads with Mitch as the lifeguards investigate a series of drug related murders in Emerald Bay.
I cannot fathom why this film has a two hour runtime. Baywatch, the show, struggled mightily to fill a TV hour with content. Director Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses) had the perfect opportunity for a fun and breezy popcorn movie. Instead, he creates a disjointed feeling with multiple awkward scenes that seem to go on forever. Gags that are initially funny deflate like balloons because they’re overdone. Baywatch definitely needs another turn in the editing bay.
The female stars of Baywatch are melt your eyeballs attractive, but the two male leads are the poster boys for human growth hormone. Zac Efron’s abs looks like they were chiseled by an Italian renaissance sculptor. There must be CGI involved as it’s hard to comprehend the definition of Efron’s physique. Dwayne Johnson is beastly in every film, but certainly jacks up the testosterone here. David Hasselhoff, who of course makes an appearance, at least looked normal. Johnson and Efron are in a different universe of physical fitness.
Baywatch plays to the big scenes, but the smaller moments are more successful. Mitch refuses to call Brody by his name. He zings perfect one-liners, making fun of his partner’s “Malibu Ken” look. These are the funniest bits with Efron’s pained reactions adding to the humor. Hannibal Buress and Yahya Abdul Mateen have smaller parts that bone up the comic heft. Alexandra Daddario also gets a few moments to shine. She trades sexual innuendo with Efron and is his romantic interest. Her piercing blue eyes accentuating the character’s tart demeanor.
From Paramount Pictures, Baywatch did not live up to my expectations. The show was dumb as hell, but had a distinct light and cheery watchability. The film is all over the place and way too long. It doesn’t take itself seriously, which is the correct approach, but needed to be leaner and more affable. Even the outtakes at the end, done by the filmmakers to guarantee laughs, miss the mark. Let the riptide drag this one under and see Pirates 5 instead at the Memorial Day weekend Box Office.