Baywatch (2017)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Baywatch</strong> (2017)

(Netflix Streaming, August 2018) There are times when, watching a movie, you get a glimpse at the confusion that must have gripped its production. So it is that Baywatch doesn’t quite know what to do with itself. It certainly understands that it’s an adaptation of a widely derided TV show with ironic elements. In fact, it has a character (played with increasing likability by Zac Efron) that seems dedicated to reminding us of all of the logical potholes that such a pedigree implies. Alas, the movie seems determined to become a hard-R comedy with copious grossness and overdone violence. How did we get here from there? The superior example of 22 Jump Street looms large over Baywatch, by showing how it’s possible to lampoon source material without bashing it or ending up with something completely unlike the source. What appears on screen feels like an incredible waste of talent. Dwayne Johnson does his best work at the PG-13 level: burdening him with swearwords and gross-out gags runs counter to his persona. Actresses such as Priyanka Chopra, Ilfenesh Hadera and Alexandra Daddario outdo Pamela Anderson in sheer sexiness but aren’t given anything to work with—even though Daddario does get a few self-deprecating jokes. Hannibal Buress is also wasted, although David Hasselhoff does get chuckles in yet another one of his self-aware extended cameos. The main problem is that the film just isn’t funny, and pushing the R-rated envelope actually makes it less comic and more pitiable. As far as I’m concerned, perhaps worst is that Baywatch‘s R-rating is used for gross jokes, swearwords and male nudity rather than maxing out the original series’ male gaze on curvy lifeguards. Seriously, what’s up with that?

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