Having endured his legendary twelve labors, Hercules, the Greek demigod, has his life as a sword-for-hire tested when the King of Thrace and his daughter seek his aid in defeating a tyrannical warlord.
In sun-kissed Emerald Bay, the vigorous Lieutenant Mitch Buchannon and Baywatch, his elite team of hand-picked and perfectly tanned lifeguards, protect the bay, keeping both sunbathers and beach lovers safe. However, this summer, two new eager trainees will join the demanding life-saving program, as well as an insubordinate former Olympic swimmer, who are all called to prove their worth on the lifeguard towers just on time when a new synthetic street drug begins to infest the Emerald Bay: the flakka. Without a doubt, this calls for some serious undercover teamwork action, as the badgeless heroes in spandex comb the beach for shady newcomers and nefarious entrepreneurs with hidden agendas of their own. Can Mitch's band save the bay?Written by
Almost everything in "Baywatch" is ridiculous and unfunny.
Fun fact: The original TV show "Baywatch" was cancelled after only one season. True story. Ratings for NBC's skin-tastic lifeguards-save-L.A. action-drama placed it in 73rd place out of 103 shows for the 1989-1990 television season and its studio (GTG) went out of business. But, as Norm McDonald used to remind us from the desk of SNL's Weekend Update, "Germans LOVE David Hasselhoff." (And people in lots of other countries do too!) Keeping the show from becoming a footnote in TV history, series star David Hasselhoff brought it to first-run syndication, where it ran from 1991-1999. Having become an international sensation, it then continued in a new setting, with a mostly new cast and under a new name, "Baywatch Hawaii", for two more seasons. Along the way, the show became a major part of the careers of Hasselhoff, Pamela Anderson, Alexandra Paul, Yasmine Bleeth, Carmen Electra, Brooke Burns, Parker Stevenson and many others. Given the show's small screen stamina and enduring popularity, it seems natural that the TV show "Baywatch" would eventually become the movie "Baywatch" (R, 1:56), much like "CHiPs" earlier in 2017. Unfortunately, much like "CHiPs", the big screen "Baywatch" sucks.
On a Florida beach, Lt. Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) leads a group of lifeguards that he calls "the elite of the elite". Mitch himself has over 500 water rescues under his trunks, while teammates Stephanie Holden (Ilfenesh Hadera) and C.J. Parker (Kelly Rohrbach) are similarly brave and skilled. In order to expand their team, Mitch and company hold try-outs for an additional three lifeguard slots. The new trainees end up being: the beautiful and brainy Summer Quinn (Alexandra Daddario), an awkward, out-of-shape but hard-charging nerd named Ronnie (Jon Bass) and Matt Brody (Zac Efron), a cocky, selfish 2-time Olympic gold medalist in swimming, who has since become persona non grata in the swimming world – and in society. (His new job somehow counts as community service for unspecified legal trouble.) As Ronnie harbors a not-so-secret crush on C.J., and Brody flirts with Summer, training commences. Brody has to learn what it is to be a real team player and that there is more to being a lifeguard than just being able to swim fast. Meanwhile, a local police officer (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), Mitch's supervisor (Rob Huebel), and even Brody, want Mitch to learn that he is a lifeguard – NOT a cop.
The reason that Mitch and the other lifeguards feel the need to act like cops is found in the person of Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra from TV's "Quantico"). She's the new owner of a bayside resort called The Huntley Club and it looks like she's up to no good. We hear her accused of running drugs and she doesn't deny it. We see her colluding with a city councilman (Oscar Nuñez) on some real estate deal and see bribes him with an expensive watch. We understand that Mitch doesn't trust her and she invites him to a party. At this "meet the neighbors" gathering, Mitch and company do their best to dig up some dirt to back up their suspicions, but Leeds is a wily woman and proof is harder to find than body fat on Dwayne Johnson or Zac Efron. When packets of a dangerous designer drug pop up, plus a suspicious fire and a couple of corpses, naturally it's up to a few lifeguards to solve the mystery, right? That's what the Baywatch babes and boys think anyway. And that's just part of what's wrong here.
"Baywatch" is mostly ridiculous and unfunny. What passes for character development are back stories which raise more questions than they answer. What passes for acting are one-dimensional characterizations which aren't believable or even sensical. And what passes for humor basically falls into one of three categories: references to the areas of the human body usually covered by swim suits, vomit jokes and seeing how many pop culture references Mitch can come up with to insult young pretty boy Brody (although some were funny) – and the best gags are all in the theatrical trailers. The screenplay, by writing partners Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, puts the characters in situations which are more insulting to the intelligence of the average Movie Fan than they are humorous. Seth Gordon's direction is too weak to make sense of it all or to give the audience more than a few chuckles along the way.
The acting is across-the-board bad, but the worst of the worst is a tie between Bass, for simply doing a 2-hour Josh Gad impression, and Chopra, for showing nowhere near the gravitas or menace necessary to be an effective villain with a (dis)honorable mention to the usually entertaining Johnson, who ends up in his worst role since 2013's "Pain & Gain". For a few amusing moments and for poking self-aware fun at its source material, the film scores minor points, but it basically can't decide whether it wants to be a comedy, a parody or a drama and it doesn't do any of those very well. (But don't gloat Dax Shepherd. "CHiPs" made most of the same mistakes.) "Baywatch" would be better titled "No Way Watch". This movie is as lame as that pun I just made. In a mid-credits scene, Johnson talks sequel with a cast member from the original TV show. Don't hold your breath, Dwayne. Consider your movie fortunate to get out of this review with a "D+".
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