Baywatch is an R-rated comedy misfire, utilizing its impressive cast to mostly tell immature dick jokes that are extremely one note. The film is harmless and funny, but a far cry from the creativity that inspired other TV show reboots, such as 21 Jump Street.
Seth Gordon‘s R-rated reboot of the popular Baywatch television series translates to film with somewhat disappointing execution. Relying heavily on dick jokes and repetitive humor, Baywatch fails to capture the comedy and creativity that the likes of 21 & 22 Jump Street managed to utilize just a few years back.
Suns out, guns out as lifeguard Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) and his team prepare for another wild summer as they recruit a few new teammates to help protect the beaches and crack down on other cases that would normally be considered police work.
Matt Brody (Zac Efron) is the newest recruit, a former Olympic swimmer that threw away his career because of a selfish lack of respect for others and the idea of working on a team.
Brody must now team up with Mitch and a few trusted others as they solve a drug case that absolutely nobody seems to want to stop.
Seth Gordon‘s Baywatch is an R-rated raunchy comedy that is self-aware and full of itself. And I mean that in a good way, because most of the film’s laughs and good times come from its ecstatic cast and the over-the-top silliness that never seems to fail them.
This is led by a charming and full performance by Dwayne Johnson. There is are very few complaints from the film in regards to Johnson’s performance, because he soaks up the character and makes for a good time. The film may be dumb and below his usual talents, but he makes the best of the situation and delivers a bonafide bad ass of the seas. Mitch is a little too serious about his job, but he does it with a big heart and the film mostly highlights that, plus his beyond human strength. There is seriously a fridge-lifting contest between Johnson and Efron’s character and it kind of sets the tone for the rest of the film.
Speaking of Efron, Matt Brody is another basic, yet likable character. Efron’s character ark is simple and easily scouted, but it works because of Efron and Johnson’s chemistry and their general nature for wanting to top each other around every single corner. I’d have to say that Johnson bests Efron in this one, but that doesn’t mean that Efron doesn’t shine as a mostly entertaining co-star.
To be honest, the entire cast helps make Baywatch work beyond its problematic script and lacking direction. Alexandra Daddario, Jon Bass and Kelly Rohrbach give the film dependable and just as entertaining co-stars. There’s no talented “wasted” in that regard.
But in virtually every other regard, Baywatch stinks. It has the mind of a 10 year-old boy, with a script that constantly harps back to dick jokes and R-rated humor of that nature. None of which is the least bit clever or well-written enough to ensure a non-stop ocean of laughs. Occasional jokes work and some of the gags are initially funny, but the film resorts too much to the same material and it gets old real quick.
Director Seth Gordon doesn’t really heighten the lacking material at all. There are slow-mo beach shots of the entire team running, dripping with sweat and lathered up in body oil, which helps meet that Baywatch quota…but doesn’t do much of anything else. There’s also a few decent action scenes that keep the momentum going, but that’s about it — it’s all sugary eye-candy with no real taste.
Baywatch is incredibly one-note, failing to capitalize on the on-screen talent and behind-the-scenes crew that could have made this a big-budget summer comedy for the ages. 21 Jump Street managed to revive a niche television show to R-rated stardom that birthed an equally great sequel, but Baywatch is lacking that behind-the-camera creativity and talent.
Seth Gordon is no Phil Lord or Chris Miller and the writing and directing clearly shows. Baywatch does have committed and talented guys and gals like Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario and Kelly Rohrbach trying their best to make sparks with the wet wood assembled by Gordon and his writers. Unfortunately, the fire dies rather quickly and that disappointing smell of wet and smoky clothes remain.
Baywatch is harmless and funny, but something that’s going to wash off you quicker than cheap sunscreen on a hot day when you need it the most.