This review was written by Anthony J Digioia. Follow him and his website here for more awesome reviews: SilverScreen Analysis
This is the film adaptation of the 90’s television series that ran for twelve-years. It stars; Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach and Jon Bass. It’s directed by Seth Gordon and follows a group of lifeguards who discover some drugs are washing up on their beach. Head lifeguard Mitch Buchanan is also clashing with an arrogant young recruit, but they will still manage to team up to try and stop a drug smuggling operation.
Now this is an interesting project. People are certainly going to bash this movie. Critics will not like it, and I would be willing to bet my paycheck on it. So, in writing this review, without seeing a single other critique for this film, I will ask; what do you want out of this movie? Do you want a serious plot with character development and well-structured story arcs? If so, pass on this film. Do you want some laughs, some likable characters, and a group of performances that show some fun chemistry and charisma that will entertain you with some cheap humor for a couple hours? Then certainly give this one a chance.
This is a film adaptation after all. A film adaptation of a TV show that ran through the 90’s, that sold itself on cheesy entertainment. It was crime fighting lifeguards. It was “Melrose Place” on the beach. Every attractive C & D-list actor or actress with a banging body in the 90’s, was on this show at some time or another. If I hadn’t been a teenager, mesmerized by cleavage and high cut swimsuits, I wouldn’t have even have watched the show back then.
Bottom line this show was a soap opera. With loads of eye candy, and a cheesy but entertaining premise and that was pretty much what this film turned out to be. Only better in my opinion because it went with crude humor, and cut out all the unneeded romance and melodramatics. It was also extremely aware of what it was, what the nostalgia of the show was back then, and it embraced it with an entertaining result. This movie also delivers one of the most amazingly over-the-top title introductions I have ever seen and from that moment on, you should know exactly what you are going to get. A film that makes a series effort, to not take itself seriously at all.
Now let’s talk performances. They were more than serviceable I thought. Johnson has got some comedic chops and he was easily able to carry this film on his shoulders with his charm and energy. He really felt like the old character played by Hasselhoff, and definitely sold himself as that father figure to the other lifeguards. As well as somewhat of a father of the beach, which was a repeated tone the television series conveyed.
Zac Efron was also pretty funny in this movie. He delivers the role well, but it wasn’t much different than the characters he’s played in the last handful of years. He and Johnson however did have a fun chemistry together, and with some just above average raunch-com dialogue, they create some amusing moments to pass the time. The rest of the characters are just sort of there. Jon Bass has some comical scenes but he has a lot of forced ones as well. Yet there are loads of forced situations in this movie and each of the characters have more than a couple of them.
But to counter that, there is a lot of moments that work in my opinion. They did manage to overshadow the scenes and scenarios that fell flat which I would consider a success. Because in the end nearly all raunch-com’s have moments that simply don’t land, and having enough scenes that do deliver, can make or break a comedy. The story is what you would expect, a simple means to an end. Loaded with cliches and never once does it try to deliver unpredictability. But it was still enough to carry the time along as the jokes and action-sequences come and go.
On the downside, this was a long movie at just under two-hours. This one had no reason to be longer than ninety-minutes and it does get a little tiring as it closes out. Overall though, it was a relatively well-paced movie that does entertain if you are in the mood for dumb fun because that is exactly what this is. This one clearly went the “21 Jump Street” route and I did enjoy it for some turn-your-brain-off entertainment. I would have liked a slightly more serious tone, and a deeper story, something along the lines of “Bad Boys” but this formula worked enough for what this film wanted to accomplish.
“Baywatch” does has its laughable moments and if you would say “21 Jump Street” did the film adaptation right. And “CHiPs” was on the other end of the spectrum, with how to do it 100% the wrong way. Then this film is certainly on the positive side because I had a good time with it. I had zero expectations going in and it still surprised me. It knew its source material, worked the nostalgia in very well, and it felt like watching a full season of the show in two-hours. It may not be something to rush out to the theater to watch, but it’s worth a viewing when it hits digital or On-Demand.