BAYWATCH (2017): Where’s the comedy?

Where’s the nostalgia? Where’s the irony? Where’s the exit?

Largely built on titillation, the original “Baywatch” TV show was never a very “intellectual” property. But it was certainly ripe for parody, which is probably where we all thought it would go when we saw a big-screen adaptation on the way… especially starring the chiseled bodies of Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron, both of whom have comedic chops and a box office draw that includes men, women, and kids. But that’s not the bearing this flick pursued. Instead, the filmmakers can’t seem to decide on a direction, as its too-serious procedural storyline and many underdeveloped subplots demonstrate. Overall, “Baywatch” should have been funnier, tighter, and rated PG-13. Its many individual faults sink the whole, and all the eye-candy in the world can’t save it.

Separately, the many unnecessary F-bombs outnumber the jokes, most of which are in the trailers, anyway. At least 20 minutes of its nearly two hour run time could have easily been cut. Its R rating (for language throughout, crude sexual content, and graphic nudity) betrays its most egregious offensives though, as the sexual content is juvenile; the male nudity is not even from the men whom most of the audience would want to see; and the unnecessarily course language is legion and too-often mistaken for a punch line. In fact, in light of the number of red-band material released for the film, I took to recording slash marks for every F-bomb from the moment the titles rolled, which totaled 72 by film’s end. Worse still, these individual elements are simply crass and not clever. Even a couple of original-series cameos are barely an afterthought; pointless, unfunny, and puzzlingly telegraphed in the titles. That curious reveal of what could have been a pleasant surprise for the viewer is par for the course though, as very little thought seems to have gone into what made Baywatch a success in the first place, or what would make its film adaptation enjoyable to watch.

Finally, even the bloopers in the credits aren’t that funny, and need to be augmented with a doubling-down on the immature overtone with a behind-the-scenes “jiggle-cam” of sorts; complete with a counter that audibly advances with every adjustment the actors make of their body parts during production.

And it took six men to write this stuff. Keep that in mind when you undercut your own burgeoning screenplays.

Baywatch (2017)

Distributor: Paramount

Release Date: May 25, 2017

Genre: Action Comedy

Runtime: 1 hrs. 56 min.

MPAA Rating: R for language throughout, crude sexual content, graphic nudity, and for having an F-bomb every 1.6 minutes

Directed by: Seth Gordon

Writing Credits: Michael Berk (based on the series “Baywatch” created by) & Douglas Schwartz (based on the series “Baywatch” created by) and Gregory J. Bonann (based on the series “Baywatch” created by); Jay Scherick (story by) & David Ronn (story by), and Thomas Lennon (story by) & Robert Ben Garant (story by); Damian Shannon (screenplay) & Mark Swift (screenplay)


Richard Bonaduce
Richard Bonaduce
Rich Bonaduce was born and raised in Pennsylvania but has lived in Utah now for half his life. In addition to being a regular contributor as a Film Critic for Salt Lake Magazine, he is also the Film Critic and Entertainment reporter for FOX13’s weekly morning show Good Day Utah. He’s also a drummer in local band “Mojave Rose,” and is much shorter than he appears on television. You've been warned.

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