DIR: Seth Gordon • WRI: Damian Shannon, Mark Swift • PRO: Michael Berk, Gregory J. Bonann, Beau Flynn, Ivan Reitman, Douglas Schwartz • DOP: Eric Steelberg • ED: Peter S. Elliot • DES: Shepherd Frankel • MUS: Christopher Lennertz • CAST: Alexandra Daddario, Dwayne Johnson
Television series often have a difficult transition from the small screen to the big screen. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa somehow pulled it off; The Inbetweeners half-managed it; Sex and the City failed. Now it’s the turn of Baywatch to attempt the difficult crossover with director Seth Gordon (Four Christmases, Horrible Bosses) at the helm, featuring mainstream Hollywood heavyweights Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron.
Baywatch centres around a team of close-knit lifeguards led by Lieutenant Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) who are well-respected for doing their jobs by beachgoers. The Baywatch team are seeking new recruits and are encouraged to hire disgraced Olympic swimmer Matt Brody (Zac Efron) to enhance the image and finances of the Baywatch program by Captain Thorpe (Rob Huebel), which Buchannon fully disagrees with. After Buchannon sees a child finding a small quantity of flakka on the beach, suspicions are raised that the drug is being sold by a new hotelier in the beach area. When a dead body is then discovered in the water, Buchannon must negotiate his personal differences with Brody and assist his team in becoming lifeguards-cum-crimestoppers to cease the drug trade and further murders.
There are very little positives about this film. Dwayne Johnson appears to take his role more seriously than others, possibly due to him serving as an executive producer, and Kelly Rohrback, who stars as C.J. Parker, seems to have fun in her performance. Alexandra Daddario, who is reminiscent of Saved by the Bell’s Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, also delivers a solid performance. Eric Steelberg’s cinematography is effective, despite the inclusion of some dodgy CGI sequences. There was also a humorous meta-line of dialogue delivered by Johnson referring to High School Musical when repeatedly insulting Efron’s Matt Brady.
Unlike the minimal positives, there are a plethora of negatives. Every joke falls flat and it’s as if the film is dedicated to pubescent teenage boys with the film’s ‘humour’ trapped in an early-noughties straight-to-VHS teen-movie time warp. The nerd and hot girl has been done so many times in the past and Baywatch does nothing to improve that with C.J. (Rohrback) and Ronnie (Jon Bass). The film’s plot is laid out so early and you can correctly guess each move a character will take next. The film’s antagonist attempts to be a satirical portrayal of a baddie, but it’s another misstep. This character also has to deliver clunky lines of dialogue that the writers assumed to be clever and witty, but again, it’s misjudged.
Baywatch should have been a perfect summer film but it fails to make you laugh when there are numerous efforts to make you laugh. It fails to keep the ‘surprises’ surprises. There are the obvious thrown-in cameos by David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson which bear no impact, especially the latter’s. It’s a film that had plenty of potential to deliver, considering the talent of cast it was working with, but an audience will find the film entertaining. Namely pubescent boys who’ll ogle at swimsuit-clad ladies and laugh at crude ‘humour’.
Has Baywatch managed to successfully navigate a tv-to-film crossover? Not in the slightest. It’s beyond disappointing and will undoubtedly feature in many ‘Worst of 2017’ lists.
15A (See IFCO for details)
Baywatch is released 26th May 2017