Baywatch (dir. Seth Gordon, 2017)

David Hasselhoff has now somehow appeared in two separate movies as himself as the main character’s spirit guardian and compared to The Spongebob Squarepants Movie this cameo was pretty lackluster. When Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson rides on David Hasselhoff’s back like a jet ski, then we’ll talk.

To keep with the exhausting trend of reviving mediocre 90s fare that nobody asked for, a cinematic reboot of early 90s relic Baywatch hit theatres on Friday and, true to the source material, it was not very good. It manages to be everything you expected a Baywatch movie to be and somehow worse. And the reason for this is: that it isn’t fun. Without the many (many) phallic jokes that don’t land or the fact that the premise alone is pretty goofy, this is a very long action drama about lifeguards who solve crimes. That self-aware humor (“That just sounds like a corny TV show!” or “Why does it always look like she’s running in slow-motion?”) doesn’t work because this movie takes itself very seriously. In the opening title sequence, The Rock rescues a drowning victim and walks onto the shore with the victim in his arms and computer-generated dolphins leaping in the background…THAT is the movie I wanted. So why is the rest of the movie so serious? Why not keep that CG-dolphin tone throughout? It would have been a lot more enjoyable and I would have tolerated the poorly written dialogue, the nonsensical drug smuggling plot, the mild to moderate sexism, the flat characters, the fact that lifeguarding alone can’t make enough money to live in a beach house or even Zac Efron’s frosted tips if this movie wasn’t so tedious.

The very few people defending Baywatch are those who enjoyed The Rock’s performance, but that isn’t fair because we could watch him eat Doritos for 90 minutes and not feel like it was a waste of time. Try as he might, his lovable presence can’t save bad writing. But I am in no position to complain about the confirmed sequel because I too spent $13.98 to watch it. And since it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever seen I predict it will become a cult classic in about 10-15 years.

Marisa Winckowski

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