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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jun 5, 2017

Baywatch Movie Review: The Original TV Show Has More Attractive Performers Than This Botched Up Movie Version

IF YOU’re a fan of the original “Baywatch” TV series on TV, which ran from 1989 to 2001 top billed by David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson, we don’t know if you’d enjoy its 2017 movie version where David and Pamela pop up in cameo appearances. When Hollywood makes a reboot of a popular series, they tend to dumb it down, like what happened to the well loved “Bewitched” (which has a truly disgusting movie version), “Get Smart”, “I Spy”, “My Favorite Martian”. Exceptions are “Sex in the City” and “21 Jump Street”.

The action series seem to fare better, like “Mission Impossible”, “Maverick”, The Fugitive”, “The Equalizer” and even “Star Trek”. Not as successful are “The A Team”, “Charlie’s Angels”, “Miami Vice”, “SWAT”, “Man from UNCLE”, “Mod Squad”, “Power Rangers”.

The original “Baywatch” on TV no doubt became a hit because of the huge appeal of scantily clad males and females on the show. Let’s face it, you can’t really do much about stories of lifeguards saving swimmers from drowning, but the sight of brawny men and curvaceious women in bikinis is more of a main attraction than the stories it offers.

The character played by Hasselhoff before, Mitch Buchanan, is now played by The Rock aka Dwayne Johnson,who is also one of the movie’s executive producers. We don’t want to sound racist but we don’t think the switch from a Caucasian to an African American was well received by U.S. audiences. The result is that the movie is a big flop in the U.S. box office, sinking easily when clobbered by the new “Pirates” movie, which in turn was easily trampled by “Wonder Woman”.

Another wrong choice is Zac Efron, who might be ripped and hunky but is so vertically challenged. Actually, his ‘bato-bato” torso doesn’t become him. Don’t they have any taller young leading men around? Since Zac zoomed to fame in “High School Musical”, he has yet to come up with a real blockbuster and most of his films like “Lucky One”, “Neighbors”, “Mike and Dave…”, “That Awkward Moment”, “Dirty Grandpa”, etc. didn’t do that well at the tills.

Mitch prepares for the summer recruiting new teammates to help man their beaches. One of the new guys is Matt (Zac), a former Olympian swimmer whose career took a nosedive due to his arrogance and refusal to work with a team. The douchebag must now learn how to respect and work well with others as part of his community service.

In the process, he gets to help in solving a drug problem on their beaches that no one seems to want to stop. The movie is rated R-16 and we’re not surprised because it’s overflowing with raunchy dick jokes. In one of its yuckiest scenes, they even actually show the dick of a dead man up close.

Unfortunately, most of the silly jokes fall flat like a beached whale and do not elicit laughs at all, like The Rock and Zac insulting each other, with The Rock even calling Zac “High School Musical”. Zac even agrees to dress in women’s clothes in one scene, but the script is really problematic and seems to have been penned by a screenwriter with the sensibility of a 12-year old boy.

Properly handled, this could have been the big comedy of the US summer season but unfortunately, the director, Seth Gordon (“Horrible Bosses”, “Identity Thief”), is not astute enough to remedy the shortcomings of the very lame material. Later on, they show the bloopers during the end credits and even those are not at all hilarious.

The conflict with drug dealers led by an Asian villain named Victoria Leeds (played by Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra) seems to hark back to action flicks of the 70s and 80s… but in local Tagalog films. The climactic scene where The Rock has a final confrontation with the armed villain and he delivers a kilometric aria really reminds us of similar scenes in local action flicks where the heroes deliver long lines of dialogue while in the thick of battle.

Sad to say, the cast members of the defunct TV series are more attractive than the ones in the movie. We remember lots of fans then swooning over Yasmine Bleeth, Nicole Eggert, Carmen Electra. Now, the only true eye candy is Alexandra Daddario as Summer, who was also with The Rock in “San Andreas”, playing his daughter.

The others are sadly not as impressive. You’d really wonder why an overweight clown was recruited as a lifeguard, Jon Bass, who has his own overextended dick and balls joke when he got them stuck in the slats of a wooden beach bench. He must have been cast as a comic relief but the trouble is he is not funny at all, just like the entire movie.