There’s proof out there that it doesn’t take comedians to make great comedies. The Baywatch movie isn’t a great comedy. It’s a comedy in intent, and actually has some bits that are really funny, but it’s doesn’t break enough new ground in that department. All of its jokes are derivative and mostly uninspired. It’s never sure what type of comedy it wants to be. The humor is never grounded in anything. It’s just recklessly random insertions into the script.
The film is more concerned with how the characters look rather than actually having a consistent tone and coherent plot–just like the TV show, except this one tries to be funny. But not in a so-bad-it’s-good way that helped make the show so popular in its heyday. There’s more intention here.
The ’90s show was known for its campiness. Fans could only hope that the movie either replicates that tone or parodies it. Unfortunately, it does neither.
Take the 21 Jump Street movie, for example. It’s fully aware at all times of its self-parody. Baywatch may make a joke or two at its own expense, but, considering its flippant style of humor, should be making way more.
Baywatch follows Dwayne Johnson as Mitch Buchannon, the head lifeguard of Emerald Bay, Florida, and his attempt to bring down a local drug lord, much to the chagrin of his boss and the local police.
Amidst all this, a new recruit, Matt Brody (Zac Efron), shows up. He’s an Olympic gold-medalist who’s turned into an entitled slacker. He’s constantly butting heads with Mitch, making for more subplots.
It goes back and forth between taking itself too seriously to not taking itself seriously at all. And it’s at its best when it doesn’t try to be witty and acts like an actual action film. The issue is, it never wants to stay that way.
Never quite set in stone, the characters are all over the place, too. One minute they handle a situation one way, then the other it’s totally different.
The script is so uneven, it’s like David Hasselhoff wrote it himself. The dialogue is completely illogical and unrealistic–not in a good way. And it’s full of foreshadowing, which makes it predictable. At times it even seems to conveniently forget about some of its major characters.
It’s pretty easy to shoot holes in the plot. And the main premise involving the drug dealers is convoluted. But honestly, it doesn’t matter because you just accept everything it’s spewing at you.
Some of the best scenes come from Yahya Abdul-Mateen, who plays a local beat cop on the beach. He’s the only actor who seems to always fully grasp what’s supposed to be going on in the script. He’s great.
Baywatch isn’t an unenjoyable movie. It’s longer than it needs to be, but makes itself easy to watch. And fortunately has enough cheap thrills for it not to be a complete waste of time. Yet, as evident with the Fast and Furious films, it could’ve also been so much more.
As an aside, isn’t it weird that Dwayne Johnson never has to cover up his tattoos for any of his roles?