Considering it was one of the most popular shows of the 90s, did you know that originally Baywatch was cancelled after only one season?
Fortunately for red blooded males everywhere, David Hasselhoff felt there was “still potential” in the idea of a bunch of lifeguards fighting problems they were vastly unqualified for, such as earthquakes, robberies and serial killers.
It’s undeniable that a lot of Baywatch’s appeal came from the boobs, butts and bods of the various men and women entrusted to guard the beaches of Los Angeles. But in this day and age of “on-demand sexuality” (I believe it’s also referred to as porn), does Baywatch have enough in it to entertain the masses?
Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) is the leader of the titular Baywatch. With second-in-command Stephanie (Ilfenesh Hadera) and skilled rescuer C.J. (Kelly Rohrbach); they are a group of lifeguards dedicated to protecting the visitors enjoying the picturesque beaches of LA.
Summer tryouts for new recruits results in three new people joining the team: Summer (Alexandra Daddario), Ronnie (Jon Bass), and Matt Brody (Zac Efron), a disgraced Olympic Gold medalist, who ends up becoming a thorn in Buchannon’s side as Matt refuses to take his responsibilities seriously.
Together they discover a drug smuggling ring and must fight to take down its suspected leader, Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra)
Does Mr Johnson have a self-confidence problem?
I ask only because when you need to spend the first 10 minutes of your film making your star look like God’s gift to humanity, you can’t help thinking that maybe Mr Johnson spends most of his time in-between takes crying into his fat-free ice cream.
Bad jokes aside though, what Baywatch does is answer one fundamental question: Is it possible to parody something that is already pretty ridiculous?
The answer is a resounding no.
It’s well known by now that the filmmakers were trying to imitate the same success 21 Jump Street had in adapting an old 80s/90s show to a R-rated comedy. But in the case of 21 Jump Street the original TV show was a serious cop drama, while the cinematic followup essentially parodied the whole idea of young looking cops going undercover in a high school.
The original Baywatch, however, was not exactly the pinnacle of realism. It was a fun-filled afternoon show which didn’t take itself too seriously. (For example, season four had an episode where Carrie-Anne Moss plays a woman suffering from multiple personality disorder, develops an obsession with David Hasselhoff’s character, and takes him hostage!)
As such, taking such a absurd idea and trying to make it more absurd is an aim that ultimately is rather futile. It would be like taking Schindler’s List and trying to make it even more depressing. You’re fighting an uphill battle here people!
And yet, director Seth Green can’t even stick with the lampooning aspect, as the film veers wildly between scenes of a humourous style and those of a serious nature. Essentially the film becomes a Jack of-all-trades, but a master of none.
But even in the deepest of holes there can sometimes be gems of fruition. Specifically the relationship between Johnson’s Buchannon and Efron’s Brody. Their Bromance replaces what would usually be the relationship between a male lead and his female love interest; and as such becomes the most engaging aspect of the film.
Shame such engaging characteristics can’t be attributed to the female characters, who are (by some miracle of God) even less developed than the average summer blockbuster and exist mainly, with the exception of the villain, as end-of-quest prizes to be won by the menfolk.
Baywatch is not going to be the worst movie of 2017. But after this watery misfire, The Rock’s previously solid label as “Franchise Viagra” is no longer quite as hard as it used to be.
Photo Credits: Earn the Necklace, Muscle and Fitness, Regal Cinemas