Greg Eichelberger reviews 'Baywatch'

Greg Eichelberger
Staff Writer

Here are a few things I learned from the film "Baywatch": Movies adapted from television programs are almost always terrible (the few exceptions are “The Brady Bunch Movie” and the “Mission: Impossible” franchise; this also includes most films based on “Saturday Night Live” sketches); moronic writers who cannot think of clever lines or situations always fall back on the “F” word as if they were 12-years old and never heard the exclamation before (this goes double for the ten or so scribblers responsible for this picture); despite his goofy optimism, demented charm and muscular anatomy even Dwayne Johnson (“The Fate of the Furious,” as well as 70 other movies this year alone) cannot save a production of such amazing incompetence; annoying rap tunes do not compensate for a decent score; Zac Efron’s abs cannot compensate for a horrible acting performance; Jon Bass (“Loving”) as comic relief is about as funny as a child with leukemia; a prolonged shot of the lifeless penis of Oscar Nuñez (“The 33,” but best known as Oscar Martinez on “The Office” TV series) was not as enjoyable as I always thought it might be (if I had ever thought about it in the first place); and I never dreamed that the best movie I would see this weekend would actually be “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.”
Oh, and I have a new-found respect for comedies such as “Masterminds,” “Why Him?,” “Rock the Kasbah” and “Office Christmas Party,” among others.
Now, had I known ANY of this BEFORE I paid good money to see this flotsam, they would would have been lessons well learned, but such is life . . .
Anyways, anyone who has viewed the iconic syndicated series which ran from 1989-2001 and starred David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson (both of whom make embarrassing cameos here; in fact, Anderson’s infamous sex tape with Tommy Lee was less cringe-inducing), knows we’re not remaking Shakespeare, but that does not excuse such complete boneheaded amateurism exhibited by director Seth Gordon (he of “Identity Thief” infamy) and the dozen or more writers who cannot decide whether "Baywatch" is a homage, a parody, a dirty comedy, a romance, an action/adventure or a crime drama (as several people actually get killed in the process).
Johnson plays Lt. Mitch Buchannon (no one is really sure just what entity he belongs to, but we really shouldn’t dwell on that too long), a by-the-books superhuman lifeguard in charge of the Baywatch Division. Conflict arises when Matt Brody (Efron, “Neighbors”), who won two Olympic gold medals then disgraced himself, needs work, but does not understand how and why the Baywatch job is much, much more than just a paycheck (frankly, neither do we). It’s family, after all.
It doesn’t matter how unqualified or dimwitted he is because after tryouts, we know the team which includes the idiotic Ronnie (Bass) and the reserved Summer (Alexandra Daddario, “San Andreas”) will also include Brody. Unfortunately, the other Baywatchers — mostly females — in the cast are nondescript, hired more for their physically-stimulating abilities than their acting prowess (hey, just like the TV show).
In fact, the only interesting character at all is Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra, an impressive résumé of some 50+ Indian films and now starring “Quantico” TV series), who is a real estate mogul and drug dealer for good measure.
And when a substance of hers, that Buchannon describes as stronger than “bath salts on meth,” washes up on shore, the gang goes into action to solve the crime, but also for additional phallic jokes (more than just Oscar’s member is sacrificed on the alter of cheap laughs), near drownings, shootings, various vomiting scenes (a body function that seems to have totally replaced farting in the screenwriter’s lowest denomination guidebook), shipboard fires, shark attacks, Mitch getting fired and replaced by Brody, and slow-motion shots of well-endowed women running up and down the beach.
By this time, of course, no one cares any more as even this reporter (and I’m sure the readers themselves) has grown tired of trying to find something — ANYTHING — even remotely interesting to continue writing about "Baywatch," which makes “Snatched” seem like “Citizen Kane” and any Adam Sandler comedy look lucid, coherent and intelligent by comparison.
Grade: F