If you’ve been looking for a somewhat entertaining but ultimately not very good movie to watch on Netflix when you’re killing time on a Sunday afternoon, Baywatch is that movie.
Here’s the story. The ever-machismo Mitch (Dwayne Johnson), the no-nonsense Stephanie (Ilfenesh Hadera), and the ray of sunshine CJ (Kelly Rohrbach) are training new recruits: the extremely underwritten Summer (Alexandra Daddario), the token chubby horny guy Ronnie (Jon Bass), and the douchebag who needs redemption Matt Brody (Zac Efron). When drugs and dead bodies start washing up on their beach, they investigate and learn that club owner Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra, who is EXCELLENT as the villain) is running a drug operation on their beach and has plans to make the whole bay private. Despite being told to “stay in their lane” by police sergeant Ellerbee (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and Mitch’s superior Captain Thorpe (Rob Huebel), the Baywatch crew takes matters into their own hands.
A remake of the 1989-2001 TV series Baywatch starring David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson (both of whom have cameos in this movie because of course), the film maintains the slow-motion shots of jiggling boobs, high-cut swimsuits, and soaking wet six-packs that the series became famous for, but it lacks the earnest, goofy charm of a group of lifeguards solving crimes in which they literally have no jurisdiction.
So the bar for this movie was set at 21 Jump Street. Let’s refresh. The 21 Jump Street remake did well because, while it made the occasional self-aware joke about its source material, it had original ideas and comedy that didn’t rely upon its release year’s popular jokes or slang. This is where Baywatch falls short. Sure, it jokes about the slow-mo runs, but it didn’t know where to draw the line between going all “remake wink-wink” and striving for something unique, so it accomplished neither. To make matters worse, the comedy felt forced and therefore unfunny. Using lines like “And not a single fuck was given” would’ve worked five years ago when that joke was in its hey-day, but we’re operating on internet time, so we’ve moved well beyond that. All these jokes do is make the movie feel dated, which, for a new release, isn’t great.
That’s not to say there aren’t funny moments in the film. Mitch constantly calls out Brody’s douchebaggery by calling him names like Malibu Ken or One Direction, and watching Zac Efron just take the flack he probably hears in real life is kind of hilarious. Also, Captain Thorpe comes up with some really weird ways to talk about how good Brody is at swimming, and they’re so uncomfortable that it’s funny. And there’s a whole sequence with Ronnie getting an erection that escalates into him getting his dick stuck in a beach chair. It’s juvenile for sure, but it warrants laughter at the sheer awkwardness. But beyond those moments, this movie feels like it would be considered funny and raunchy to a seven-year-old, not adults.
I’m pretty disappointed because the trailers totally sold me on this movie, and now here we are. I guess not even The Rock can save truly mediocre movies.