The Rock tries to save ‘Baywatch’ but did he succeed?

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Zac Efron in ‘Baywatch’

Our Score:

“80 percent of what LA lifeguards do is look after lost kids on the beach” – Brooke Burns as “Jessie” from an episode of the TV show “Baywatch””

“Baywatch” was a television series that lasted only one season on NBC prior to its cancellation.  Its star, David Hasselhoff, felt that it had potential and found a way to continue production in the first-run syndication market.  He was right.  The mixture of attractive beaches, good looking women in those red bathing suits and a charismatic leader of a team of lifeguards kept the show on television for another nine seasons.  Now we have a feature film taking the Baywatch concept and choosing to ramp up the comedy and dumb down the drama.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (Snitch) takes on the role of “Mitch Buchannon” who runs things at Baywatch.  He is ably assisted by “Stephanie Holden” (Ilfenesh Hadera – Old Boy) and “C. J. Parker” (Kelly Rohrbach, taking on the Pamela Anderson role).

It is time for the annual ritual of lifeguard tryouts and there are only three openings available.  Mitch’s boss “Captain Don Thorpe” (Rob Huebel – The Descendants) says that one of the slots is going to go to “Matt Brody” (Zac Efron – The Lucky One).  Brody won two individual gold medals at the last Summer Olympics, but caused his teammates a medal in a swim relay race and he’s been going downhill ever since.  Among those hoping to become lifeguards are “Summer Quinn” (Alexandra Daddario – San Andreas) and “Ronnie” (Jon Bass – Loving).  Ronnie’s close friend “Dave the Tech” (Hannibal Burress – Neighbors) is supportive of his buddy making the squad, even though it means his partner in geekdom won’t be behind the keyboard anymore.


Meanwhile, the local beach club has been bought by “Victoria Leeds” (Priyanka Chopra) who is also busy trying to buy up all of the local real estate she can.  Mitch suspects something untoward is going on at the club involving Victoria but as he is constantly reminded by local cop “Sergeant Ellerbee” (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II).  Mitch will of course ignore those reminders and investigate this with his squad of lifeguards.  That squad includes Matt Brody even though he manages to screw up at almost every single opportunity.

Priyanka Choipra, Kelly Rohrbach and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in ‘Baywatch’

This was not intended to be a “statement” or “message” film or the kind of movie that garners any buzz about awards.  Well, maybe Razzie awards.  The target audience for this film is people who want to laugh, people who want to ogle hot women in those iconic red swimsuits (as well as the many bikinied babes on the beach the lifeguards protect) and to watch The Rock do his thing.  On that level, the film works.  Does it have a good story?  Not really.  Is the dialogue scintillating?  Oh hell no.  Are there way too many F-bombs?  Oh hell yes.  The CGI is weak.  But with all those negatives, it still makes people laugh.  Maybe some of the laughs are at how bad some of this movie really is, but most of the laughs were by design.  Zac Efron is solid as the butt of a number of jokes.  The biggest criticism I have is that the incredibly funny Hannibal Burress is wasted.  Why bother to cast someone who can make people laugh in a comedy if you’re going to waste him as “Dave the Tech?”

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