Baywatch movie review: Priyanka Chopra is weighed down by this film's sheer ineptitude
Hollywood seems to love turning campy old sitcoms into feature films – from Starsky and Hutch to 21 Jump Street and now Baywatch. Much like Jump Street, Baywatch is an attempt at R-rated self-aware humor, but it unfortunately neither makes you laugh nor evokes fond memories of the original show.
This is not a film but an exercise in banality, with loud, unfunny situations constantly thrown at your face. It’s also unfortunate for Miss Chopra whose Hollywood launch turned out to be such an unexciting flop.
In Baywatch, we’re introduced to Mitch (Johnson) who is a superstar beach patrol personnel in Florida – he’s well built and has saved a ton of lives, much to the jealousy of his colleagues. His new recruits include a spectacularly hot surfer named Summer (Daddario), a fat buffoon named Ronnie (Jon Bass), and a moronic ex Olympian named Matt (Zac Efron). Naturally the new ‘team’ doesn’t gel very well, which leads to cartoonish situations mined for laughter.
To set up some kind of ‘serious plot’, Mitch finds a bag of drugs at the compound of a mysterious woman named Victoria (Chopra) – which leads to the Baywatch uncovering a super villainous ring of sorts.
The problem with Baywatch is that it doesn’t try hard enough to be funny, it’s as if the director Seth Gordon expects people to be happy just by the good-looking cast.
Johnson, having showcased some charisma in earlier films is not that funny in a comedy of this sort, and the physical gags he gets himself into become tedious after a point. The same goes for Efron, whose persona in being a former Disney toy boy is subverted into a moron – but that shtick gets tiring as well.
Priyanka Chopra is probably the most interesting element of the film but she’s weighed down by the sheer ineptitude of every other element in the film.
The other mistake the film makes is that it escalates situations into the ridiculous realms, and expects its audience to applaud. The filmmakers don’t realize that just because you see increasingly buffoonish stuff on the screen doesn’t automatically warrant a laugh from you. The attempts, therefore, at lobbing F bombs and delivering other lowbrow vulgarities falls flat, because the foundations of the film are so flimsy to begin with.
Oddly the film’s other big gaffe is the two hour run time which is frustrating to say the least. Nothing in the film raises any stakes whatsoever, and it takes a lot of patience to sit through the feeble plotting.
The film’s tone is also a problem, it’s never clear whether the film is paying homage to the cheesy 80’s show, or making fun of it, or trying to recreate the campy nonsense. A big reason why the original show became so famous is that it came at a time when footage of naked ladies wasn’t immediately accessible for mainstream audiences.
But nowadays with everyone brandishing phones with access to every site in the world, the access to bikini clad women and tanned bodies is no longer difficult, and expecting audiences to watch this film on just the prospect of seeing half naked women and jiggling cleavages is quite frankly stupid.