(AOTN) Many kids born in the early to mid 1980’s will remember watching the oceanic rescue television show, Baywatch. It had been a few years since David Hasselhoff’s Knight Rider had come to an end but he eventually found more small screen fame when he became the main star once again running up and down a Californian beach in slow motion. The show lasted on air until 2001, a time when audiences probably finally realised that Hasselhoff was getting a bit long in the tooth to keep playing a supposedly hunky lifeguard.
Now, 16 years later Paramount Pictures keeps the remake train rolling by releasing Baywatch the movie, starring Dwayne Johnson who takes on the role of Mitch Buchannon, formerly owned by The Hoff. Zac Efron and rising female star Alexandra Daddario star alongside, neither of whom get much to do other than take the script for what it is and appear as if they are having a good time. Why Paramount chose exactly to reinvent Baywatch is anybody’s guess because it is a difficult concept to expand upon. And it shows even with many more millions of dollars thrown behind it.
he plot centers around Mitch taking on a rookie named Matt Brody (another former regular in the television form) teaching him the ropes with great difficulty due to Brody’s resistance and disliking of his new boss. Meanwhile, a subplot involving drugs makes it’s entrance in order to give Baywatch something to lean on.
The appeal and purpose of watching a movie of this kind is probably still the same for many people that watched the show. Nearly nude men and women supposedly doing something worthy for mankind. Well, forget the mankind thing. We all know, whether we admit it or not that Baywatch, in both it’s television and movie incarnations, is all really about showcasing sexuality.
There is no shortage of women’s busts and men’s abs on view as our heroes dive into the salty waters in slow motion to do their thing. I am pretty sure that literally every diving sequence was shot excessively in slow motion. It is hard to think of any reason other than to pay homage to the beginning credit sequence in the show. If this is so, then it rapidly oversteps the mark in that regard.
Scenes of action were, and are somewhat restricted in terms of possibilities due to their nature and due to the concept of the narrative. Making the decision to turn Baywatch into a long and mainly comedic dialogue feature was probably the right thing to do, but running at nearly 2 hours it all feels a little too excessive during it’s third act.
Comedic value will be down to individual taste but if penis and sex jokes are your thing then you might be impressed. I don’t know what the accompanying audience was like if you already went to see this picture, but there was not one convulsion of laughter during my experience. It did raise a smile or two but nothing about the movie is sustainable outside of a viewing. Personally, I think penis and sex jokes got old ten years ago, a sentiment that has been evidently echoed by others, so it does make you wonder if Hollywood haven’t got the memo yet.
Although I am not a wrestling fan and did not bear witness to Dwayne Johnson partaking in the sport, I initially expected him to incorporate a certain amount of his own ego into his movie roles. But I am happy to have been proven wrong. He seems to be enjoying taking on roles that put his macho image at risk. And there are plenty of moments in Baywatch that do that! It comes across that Johnson wants to be taken as a serious actor who is dedicated to his craft, which is refreshing to see from somebody who previously had a much different profession.
At the end of the day, I predict that Baywatch is a movie that will come and go. It is a middle of the road comedy picture loaded with mainly tawdry dialogue. Cliche’s are also plentiful here which makes the experience that much more ordinary and do nothing to rise Baywatch above the rest of the crop. The film hints at a sequel during it’s conclusion but with disappointing box office results I would not bet on it. Paramount should have known they were taking a risk by choosing to resurrect the Baywatch franchise in movie form. Or maybe they did and wanted to make a quick buck. Who knows.
Fans of the original show may, and I do stress, may check out Baywatch. For the rest of you, there are plenty of other more appealing movies on offer right now and one would be wise to look elsewhere unless they really have seen everything else. Or preferably wait until the film inevitably hits the bargain bin on DVD/Blu Ray.