Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Baywatch

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie.  I sometimes run to the show's theme song but find myself running in slo-mo.



Baywatch – 3 out of 5

My familiarity with the television show Baywatch is admittedly limited.  I’ve seen my fair share of episodes but I was never invested enough where I could tell you a single story line or character name.  Basically, what I know of the show is what has been parodied of it in pop culture—things like the theme song, running in slow-motion, etc.  That being said, when I saw the trailer for the film adaptation with my man crush The Rock, I was pretty interested.  My hopes were that this feature would be akin to the movie adaptation of 21 Jump Street—something that lampoons but also honors the source material it is teasing.  Sadly, Baywatch was a bit more generic than that.

                                                                                                       Paramount Pictures
Admit it, you can actually hear the show's theme song when you look at this photo.

Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) is the big shot on the beach in Emerald Bay, Florida.  His lifeguard team is the best there is and, sadly, is forced to recruit a washed up Olympic gold medalist by the name of Matt Brody (Zac Efron) to his team.  Brody lacks focus and his arrogance keeps him from being a team member but it doesn’t stop Buchannon and his group from doing their jobs.  One of those jobs is finding out who is dealing a dangerous drug on the beach and pretty soon these lifeguards are doing more than just helping drowning swimmers.

                                                                                                       Paramount Pictures
The Rock has such a puppy dog look in his eyes.

Baywatch definitely has some moments that are very funny and the film does a decent job of taking lighthearted jabs at the original series but, overall, I was a little underwhelmed by the entire feature.  There’s no denying that The Rock is utilizing his natural charisma excellently, that Zac Efron is delivering his best with the humor and that, when these two combine to form a comedy movie duo version of Voltron, they are very entertaining.  The real killer for this feature is the story, the central conflict, and how too much of the action and comedy feels like stand-alone gags and skits rather than humor layered into the narrative.

                                                                                                      Paramount Pictures
Any chubby dude can relate to this man.  We all think we're fooling the world
by wearing shirts in situations where we know we're going to end up swimming.

I won’t try and blow smoke and claim that I sat silently throughout the entire film because there are definitely scenes that cracked me up and I really find Johnson and Efron to be very funny actors who definitely have a handle on timing but there were too many times when the comedy felt forced to me and sometimes felt awkward.  For example, there is a lifeguard trainee named Ronnie (played by Jon Bass) who is the awkward nerdy character and while his scenes are funny in theory to me, the actual sequences came off very clumsy and hard for me to enjoy.  There are times I laughed at his antics but there were just as many times where I didn’t.  This all stems from an issue that the action set pieces had too and that was an uneven presentation.  There are times when the comedic and action moments are constructed fantastically with great editing, pacing and music and it equals some truly entertaining moments but for every one of these there is a very poorly built sequence that contains sloppy editing with awkward pacing and set pieces.  When that is combined with the fact of the humor standing by itself rather than being created from the story and conflict (mentioned in the previous paragraph), you have a film that feels a tad all over the place and unfocused.

                                                                                                      Paramount Pictures
Jesus, are those abs even real? If I worked my ass off to get those abs
I would never wear a shirt--ever!

The next big killer for the film was its haphazard handling of one the story’s center conflict.  Priyanka Chopra played Victoria Leeds, a female crime boss who is dealing drugs off the beach.  That’s a fine enough conflict and feels like it would be something from the original show but the problems that come from it is how little development it gets, how long it takes to really establish the stakes of it all, and how easily it is to forget that it is happening as it gets shuffled around in the non sequitur sketch-like comedy sequences.  It made for a film that felt like it never had any real place it was going to and that it was in no real hurry to get there.  There’s additional conflict create in the form of Brody not being a team player and this is handled a little better but not by much.

                                                                                                      Paramount Pictures
I won't lie, it would have been awesome if he Rock Bottom'ed this guy and
then gave him the People's Elbow after he rescued him.

Baywatch isn’t without its moments and charm.  Even though I found it to be a mess, I won’t deny that Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron are a very funny duo.  I had hopes that this film would have been a 21 Jump Street situation but rather found something way more generic and far clumsier in its execution.

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