Two months ago, Warner Bros. released a modernized movie version of the 70s/80s TV series “Chips”. It was an abysmal failure, both on screen and at the box office. And now, not to be outdone, Paramount has responded with “Baywatch”, which takes the ‘movie reboots of old TV shows’ genre to depths previously unseen.
Dwayne Johnson has parlayed his size, smile and charisma into becoming Hollywood’s #1 leading man. But he supplies no charm here as Mitch Buchannon, the leader of the “Baywatch” lifeguard team, which not only is charged with saving people from drowning but also fights crime on a stretch of South Florida beaches. Tryouts for three new trainee positions are underway – and the three people you’d expect would get the them do, including Summer, (played by “San Andreas”’s Alexandra Daddario) and Ronnie, an overweight goofball (played by Jon Bass).
The third new recruit is two-time Olympic Gold Medal-winning swimmer, Matt Brody. Zac Efron continues his streak of embarrassingly bad roles in similarly misguided rom-coms (“Dirty Grandpa”, the “Neighbors” movies, “That Awkward Moment” and “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates”). But Efron’s presence here is the most unforgivable, as is the fact that he’s actually paying agents to get him these parts.
The “Baywatch” script could have been written by a porpoise. Dead bodies and illegal drugs are showing-up on the beach, and there just happens to be a shady, new property owner in town (played by “Quantico”’s Priyanka Chopra). Hmmm – sounds like this calls for an investigation – by the lifeguards!
As was the case with “Chips”, “Baywatch” is not a parody of the TV series – but an attempt to turn the concept of the classic show into a modern comedy – hoping that the name, a couple of “inside jokes” and a few predictable cameos will attract fans of the old show. The time has come for studios to abandon this strategy.
Not a single element of “Baywatch” works on any level. There are no laughs, no interesting characters, no suspense, and for a film that’s primarily focused on showcasing body parts (including an obsession with male genitals) it’s shockingly flat. “Horrible Bosses” director Seth Gordon uses slow-motion in the action sequences in an attempt to cover-up some truly awful visual effects. And don’t think for a second that this was all done on purpose in homage to the campiness of the TV show. Sorry, that excuse won’t float.
Overall, “Baywatch” is so dull and uninspired that you’d be more entertained sitting on a beach and staring at the water for an entire day. And capping it all off: closing…credits…bloopers.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Baywatch” gets an F.
Running Time: 116 min.