Not too long after it begins, I noticed that Baywatch was going to follow the same path as the movie version of 21 Jump Street from a few years back. These are simply more comedic takes on a once popular property from decades before. Looking at how successful 21 Jump Street and its sequel were, it’s easy to see why someone would try to replicate that. It’s just unfortunate that Baywatch finds itself being unable to keep up with it and consistently deliver on that same level.
Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) is used to keeping the shores safe as the leader of his crew of lifeguards. It’s something he loves dearly as he patrols the beach to prevent danger from overtaking his territory. Now, not only is he faced with bringing in new recruits, he’s doing so with an eye on what looks to be a growing problem around them when a new drug surfaces and creates danger due to it lethal abilities as well as the people who are pushing it.
What hurts Baywatch is basically having a first half that fails to impress. During these scenes, most of the comedy fails to get any kind of reaction. It also stumbles and comes off as uncoordinated as they attempt to establish characters and build the world that is surrounding them. The tone of this portion of the movie is perfectly fine, but it’s a struggle to find anything that would be considered delightful or even engaging while we wait.
When a movie goes this long being unfunny, you expect it to remain unfunny throughout. At one point during Baywatch, I found myself just hoping it would be over. However, that changed as I actually wanted a little bit more as we approached the movie’s conclusion.This kind of change never really happens like this. It was a good thing for me as I didn’t want to sit through the rest of it at first, but it can also be seen as a bad thing as well.
The main differences between the early and later parts of Baywatch are the comedy and action that is included. While the comedy in the first half was rarely funny, what we see and hear from the cast in the second is of much better quality. What’s here during this point in Baywatch is what we should have been able to see from the beginning. Being able to do this would have turned it into something I might actually watch again on a lazy afternoon when there’s nothing else for me to do.
When thinking back on it, the action and comedy improve in this movie partially because the world building that we see in the first half is done with and essentially pushed to the side. Once that happens, we watch the Baywatch team investigate the recent murders taking place on their beach while they’re also trying to find out who the bad guys are. This portion of the movie is textbook Baywatch from the t.v. series but with more comedy. If you’ve ever seen any of those episodes, you’ll know what to expect.
With all of the world building we see in Baywatch, it’s clear they want to make multiple movies out of this property. Although I can see and understand why they would want to, I don’t know if that will happen. The early part of the movie is important due to its size and significance. They don’t handle this well as it’s drawn out, unstructured and not very engaging. Of course, this not only undermines the rest of the movie , but it also weakens any potential sequels if not enough people are satisfied with what they see if they actually go to see it.
Although I’m unwilling to recommend Baywatch, I also wouldn’t attempt to discourage anyone from seeing it if they are thinking about giving it a chance. After all, I don’t speak for everybody and there may be enough here for at least some in the audience to enjoy what’s seen throughout. I think much of that will come down to how well the comedy is received in the early going. If you like it, you will enjoy this more than many others will.
Director: Seth Gordon
Film Length: 119 minutes
Release Date: May 25, 2017
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
- Score - 5/105/10