Like TV, only worse

W hen you think about Pamela Anderson’s boobs, the phrase “comic juggernaut” comes to mind, right? Openly mocked for good reason, the original “Baywatch” television series was not unlike a weekly exclusive interview with the upper torso of Pamela Anderson. Looking it up just now, the series lasted twelve years. That has to be a misprint, right? You could not possibly have milked twelve entire years of entertainment out of staring at bimbettes in a red one-piece, could you? Interspersed among a wealth of footage devoted to bouncing and jiggling, the producers of the television show felt some sort of bizarre need to fill the rest of the hour with, I dunno, drama and, hence, dabbled together a half-assed idea about lifeguards solving crimes. It was like an unironic parody of actual television.

With this blueprint of genius laid at their collective thongs, the execs at Paramount and several other shamed-faced production companies decided they collectively had too much money and it was time to waste some on a Baywatch rebirth. Gee, how can you go wrong exploiting all that?

Let me start here: Baywatch is stupid. Really stupid. The whole idea of condoning lifeguards doing police work without training is equally as unintelligent as giving George Zimmerman a gun. Baywatch the movie sort-of knows this and sort-of doesn’t at the same time. It’s like the writing is fully aware that “lifeguard pursuit” isn’t a thing, but the plot doesn’t go anywhere if you just make two hours of puerile sex jokes.

Lieutenant Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) – yes, apparently lifeguards do hold ranks – lives up to his basic job description by saving a life roughly every eight seconds. It’s all part of the job, ma’am. I’m not sure how a guy nicknamed “The Rock” is such a good swimmer; I suppose CGI has some marvelous uses these days. This part is fine, The Rock is great at being the magnanimous humble-ish superman. And then plot happens. Uh oh. Twice Olympic gold medalist Matt Brody (Zac Efron) is trying to live down a P.R. nightmare in the douchiest way possible. While the rest of Baywatch is holding auditions for new detectives, er lifeguards, Matt has already secured a place and refuses to compete; this leaves the awkward of forcing two affable actors (Johnson and Efron) into roles where they’re both dicks.

Ugh, fine. You win. Bring out the boobs.

The C-to-DD-cups here come in four varieties: the villainous Victoria (Priyanka Chopra), the boss (Ilfanesh Hadera), the no-nonsense Summer (Alexandra Daddario), and the nonsense C.J. (Kelly Rohrbach). Rarely do you see sexual harassment of men on screen, but C.J.’s relationship with boner-related comic relief Ronnie (Jon Bass) almost certainly constitutes such. Well, this is why we’re here, right? Bring on the sexploitation! Do note, the only explicit nudity in the film, in this R-rated comic film, is a full rear shot of Ronnie, the only character I’ve listed so far who isn’t a 10 and isn’t close. *sigh* Bottom line, Baywatch, is if sexual harassment of male coworkers is your idea of cinematic equality, then congratulations, your substance is even worse than your plot.

Zac Efron, who continues to be in comedies without being funny, is becoming something of a cautionary tale – he showed up for this film looking as if he wanted to wrestle The Rock into submission. Fantastic, the bod looks great, Zac. Now what about the acting? See, people like singing, romantic, humble Zac. I have yet to see people go nuts for the Ravishing Rick Rude version. Maybe if each day you spent an hour less in the gym and an hour more in acting seminars … I’m just sayin’. And quite frankly, “former Olympic champion fallen from grace” is just about the worst backstory there is. Did any adult write this film? Any adult at all?

This movie is an unpleasant mistake. I could go on for an hour or longer about the irresponsibility of promoting lifeguards ahead of the police, but there’s no point; it would be like attempting to school Forrest Gump on classic literature. Baywatch is a film directly aimed at our basest pleasure centers and failing to get there all the same – it’s mirthless, humorless, and –for the kind of film being promoted- almost criminally sexless. There are better versions of almost anything you’re looking for here. But hey! Sun, sand, and hot people; what more do you want?

♪Summer bluffin’, got me a “hit”
Who ya kiddin’, *this* piece of shit
It stars The Rock, built like a tree
Ooh, and Zac, if his mom sets him free
Summer pose, stretch out those clothes, to oh oh the summer trite

Telling less, telling less
Was there really a plot?
Telling less, telling less
Honestly, there was not

Rock chased bad guys, swam like a champ
Coeds jiggled, got some suits damp
They saved lives, detecting around
The beach is safer, except for the drowned
Find this in the buck-fifty bin, ‘cuz oh oh the summer trite♫

Rated R, 116 Minutes
D: Seth Gordon
W: Jay Scherick & David Ronn and Thomas Lennon & Robert Ben Garant
Genre: Making a bad idea worse
Type of person most likely to enjoy this film: Really immature teens
Type of person least likely to enjoy this film: Police officers

♪ Parody inspired by “Summer Nights”

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