By Shelby Fielding (Lubbock, Texas)

 

When walking into the Alamo Drafthouse theater to examine Seth Gordon’s unanticipated reboot of the entertaining, yet forgettable television show known as Baywatch. I began to realize that this is one of those films you walk into with low expectations and distinct realizations that the filmmakers are just trying to entertain you, nothing more nothing less, focusing on the devoted lifeguard known as Mitch Buchannon, played by the utterly charismatic Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, colliding with the reckless new recruit known as Matt Brody (Zac Efron). Together and with the help of the rest of the attractive lifeguards, they try to unravel the truth as to why the drug known as Flocka is beginning to become a consistent problem at the Bay. With a glossy filter covering the cinematography and enough slow motion to become a nuisance in the screenplay, Baywatch is a film that provides some great chuckles of laughter as well as moments of cringe-worthy absurdity.

Opening with multiple establishing shots of the Bay and its radiant beauty as the sun rises in the background was an unexpected introduction to this film. Then my expectations were met in full fruition as we see Mitch Buchannon (The Rock) come onto the scene just in time as the wind rises in such an intense way it causes a man to lose control of his kite carrying him and his surfboard out of the water to dump him head first onto a cliff on the Bay. Mitch races to the rescue diving headfirst into the water and then we get a medium shot of Mitch carrying the unconscious surfer in a silly shot of slow motion as the Baywatch logo drops into the background of the ocean side with dolphins vaulting out of the water. This introduction of Damian Shannon and Mark Swift’s screenplay is, of course, ridiculous and over the top, which was a welcomed component of Gordon’s Baywatch, because while it is ridiculous at least, it makes sense for what these filmmakers are trying to achieve.

This film is not constructed become a thought provoking or mesmerizing example of cinema that we study and analyze in the halls of film class. Instead, this is a film contrived to entertain and amuse with its comical gestures and self-awareness of its sheer stupidity. And, it checks out in those categories for sure. Providing some whimsical sequences that undoubtedly entertained me, almost in the same facet as Universal’s Fast & the Furious franchise does. With its fast-edited action sequences compiled of pure lunacy with nonsensical displays of improbable physical capabilities. With the help of charming actors and amusing dialogue interchanges, these films become undeniably entertaining blockbusters with no substance to provide rewachability other than the theme of pure fun. Baywatch is obviously a film with these same tropes and clichés of similar shot sequences glossed over with a glazing style of cinematography to embellish a sense of appeal or joyfulness.

Then its direction is filled with medium shots, wide shots, pans, and establishing shots that overwhelmingly reflect the idea of simplicity. Which is the point, I think, the point is clearly to let these actors improv and trade comical insults with each other to create an organic interaction of the characters. Something that Baywatch succeeds at in multiple facets. Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron steal the show with some remarkable chemistry that makes the idea of a franchise inevitable with these two handsome studs at the helm. Jon Bass plays the side character that provides a significant portion of the comic relief in unanticipated charming fashion. He showcases some individuality while being a character that fades into the background for the most of the one hundred and sixteen-minute runtime. He was surprisingly witty with his one-liners and hilariously dorky with his goofy interactions with the woman he’s infatuated with that cause some cringy interactions between this beautiful woman (Kelly Rohrbach) and this amusing buffoon. This cast continuously provided some humorous exchanges between characters, and its absurd action sequences driven by nonsensical displays of some filmmakers call “Action,” I guess.

Baywatch is another addition to the modern day blockbuster genre that continues to be assembled with preposterous sequences of actions that are disguised with charming actors and their improvisational interchanges of funny dialogue. It continues to provide some sense of entertainment with its repetitive filmmaking. Apparently, this genre of filmmaking has become a predictable success at the box office consuming audiences with its entrancing outer layering. Though I’ll admit as someone whose passion is driven by innovative and provocative filmmaking, it’s hard to say that Baywatch resembles the aspects that can construct a great film.

It’s hard to tell that Baywatch even parallels to that of a good film, but it’s almost impossible to believe that Baywatch doesn’t provide at least one chuckle for every patron who chooses to pay for the service of sitting down and watching this movie inside a theater. A theater that is providing us a film that not only entertains us but reminds us of the strong difference between films that provide enthralling substance instead of laughable reminiscences of a screenplay focused on entertaining and not riveting which is probably the point for its creation other than its probable box office success.

Rating: 2/5

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