Baywatch

‘Beyond its entertainment value, ‘Baywatch’ has enriched and in many cases helped save lives.’

(Yes, he really said this…) David Hasselhoff

The red swimsuits and the slow motion running may be more infamous than famous, but the Baywatch television series conjures up all that was wrong with the 90’s. This show ran for 12 seasons with numerous spin offs. It is a wonder that there was not considerations for a feature film earlier. David Hasselhoff’s red suit is being filled by Dwayne Johnson (Central Intelligence) and he is leading the band of elite lifeguards and sleuth wannabes on the beach of Emerald Bay. Can this new band of life savers capture the hearts of audiences in a similar fashion to the show that inspired it?

For fans of the show, all will seem very familiar from the red swimsuits and the introduction of each character. Lt. Mitch Buchannon is the revered leader of the elite division of lifeguards called Baywatch. In an attempt to lift the profile of the life saving team, Mitch’s superior decides to hire the former Olympic swimming champion, Matt Brody (Zac Efron). The rebellious swimmer hopes to cruise into the system on his celebrity status, but Mitch will only allow the defamed swimmer on the crew if he goes through the same rigorous lifesaving programme. Throughout the inner turmoil on the team, the beach is suffering from a new wave of organised crime. Veronica Leeds (Priyanka Chopra) is the new owner of the elite Huntley Club and her goal is to buy up all of the property along the beachfront. In the process of establishing her network in Emerald Bay, she did not count on the crime fighting skills of the life savers in the red suits getting in the way.

Some of the reason for the success of Baywatch, besides the obvious eye-candy that it provided for a generation, was that it did not take itself too seriously. David Hasselhoff has been able to maintain his celebrity status on his ability to laugh at himself and what his character represented. With the built in fanbase and the star power of Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron, this feature length edition contains the elements needed to draw people to cinemas. The problem with director Seth Gordon’s (Horrible Bosses) interpretation is that he does not seem to know where to go with the film. Is it meant to be in the extravagant camp category of over the top antics or is it meant to be a buddy law enforcement film? This lack of clear direction causes a jumbled mess that never fully launches.

The nostalgic euphoria of this beach escapade gets dashed on the rocks quite quickly with each line of dialogue. The script lacks any originality and the comedic execution failed to connect with the crowd. Johnson is usually capable of lifting the worst of scripts out onto his shoulders and provide a modicum of entertainment, but even The Rock could not save this film. The jokes caused painful winces instead of belly laughs and the over use of sexual commentary lead to verbal groans as opposed to laughs. This is where Zac Efron needs to realise that he is not meant for comedies. He is a good looking young man, but he has proven that he has grown a bit old for his frat boy method of humour. This is evident in the extended penis scene that was meant for laughs, but only became an embarassment for all involved.

The whole experience is a bit like going to the beach on an exceptionally hot day. At first it seems like a good idea, but for those who do venture out onto the scorching sand, the reward for their efforts will be sore feet and a sunburn. Like the beach on a blistering hot day, Baywatch will leave audiences with sour dispositions and feeling burned by the producers of the film.

REEL DIALOGUE: What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?*

Drug use, violence, justice, sex, language…

The opportunities for consideration are plentiful in Baywatch.

Trying not to ‘out’ myself as a prude, the question that needs to be asked, “What should we put in front of our eyes for the sake of entertainment?” This film rips open the wound that represents the desire to enjoy something that screams out for moral objection.

 Psalm 101:3 says, “I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar.”

When film makers add certain components of writing or imagery for realism or for the sake of artistic license there may be an excuse on their part, but where does the accountability come down to the viewer? Should I be putting graphic violence, nudity and crude language before my eyes and into my mind? The answer seems pretty obvious, but how would you answer that question? Just another thing to consider before seeing the abysmal Baywatch.

  1. Is revenge ever justified? (Romans 12:19, Proverbs 24:29)
  2. Can we become better as humans?’ (Genesis 1:27, Mark 7:20-23)
  3. Can mankind’s hearts change from evil to good? (2 Corinthians 5:17, 2 Timothy 2:21)

WATCH THE TRAILER

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Russell Matthews

Russell loves film and enjoys engaging in discussions about the latest cinema offerings and then connecting this with the Gospel. He has worked for City Bible Forum for over 10 years, is a reviewer for Insights Magazine and Entertainment Fuse and has a blog called Russelling Reviews. He moderates events for Reel Dialogue which connect the film industry with the general public.