Friday, 26 May 2017

Review: Baywatch

Cert: 15 / 116 mins / Dir. Seth Gordon / Trailer

Full disclosure: I've never seen an episode of Baywatch. But that shouldn't matter, right? Paramount certainly don't seem to think so, with the erstwhile jewel in the crown of Saturday evening programming dusted down and retooled in sunbleached widescreen for the next, hopefully unfussy, generation.

So, you know the drill. Something, something, the Baywatch crew are A Family™; something, something evil drug-dealing property-developer; something, something action-sequence approximately every twelve minutes. There's the muscly one, the thick one, the hot one, the geeky one, and the other two attractive ones that the story doesn't know what to do with, so they're just hanging around in the background most of the time. Also, dick-jokes. This film hopes you haven't seen dick-jokes before.

Formulaic, self-satisfied and more fixated with bathing-suits than even a film set on a beach should be, this feels like Michael Bay directed a studio-comedy. Baywatch is the film that went to the party dressed as 23 Jump Street, but received compliments all night for its Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates 2 outfit.

It's not without a certain juvenile charm, but that wears thin in short order and the film is littered with jokes which must have looked hilarious on paper, lost completely between sloppy editing and uninspired performances. Although that's often a by-product of having six writers onboard. And for every high-framerate jumping stunt or glorious beach sunrise, there's an intercut shot which was so obviously filmed on a soundstage with shoddy lighting and colour-timing, that it might as well be plasticine stop-motion for all its visual continuity. And of course there's a reel of what would normally be out-takes, but are mainly lines of dialogue which were dropped from the film entirely (for reasons which become apparent as you watch). I suppose I should be thankful this wasn't made starring Mark Wahlberg, at least…

But ultimately, I've seen worse. In fact, I've seen worse with this cast. Plus, the sun, sand, unfeasible gymnastics and erratic gunfire has reminded me that I haven't played Vice City Stories for too long. So I've got that to look forward to again…

…and can we all stop pretending David Hasselhoff is some sort of post-ironic cultural icon, please? He was wooden back in the day, he's worse now that he thinks he's doing it deliberately*1.

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
(even though this is nowhere near as offensively poor, to be fair).

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
I hope not.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Probably not, but that really depends on how effusive you are about it.

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There is; composer Christopher Lennertz seems to have worked it into the track running behind the jet-ski chase and ensuing punch-up.

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: Jon Bass is in this (in a part clearly written for Josh Gad), and he was in last year's Loving along with Joel 'Young Uncle Owen' Edgerton.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Watching him mangle his few lines of already-simplistic dialogue in this film is embarrassing. Okay, it's maybe not the most humiliating thing David's ever appeared in but he got paid for his return to Baywatch, which in many ways makes it worse. The film acts like Hasselhoff's appearance is some sort of surprise cameo that the audience weren't expecting, apparently unaware that its own opening credits feature the words "and David Hasselhoff" (the same goes for Pamela You-Know-Who's walk-on*2). Guardians 2 only pulled this shit off because the rest of the film was so good, and even then the final musical number threatens to undo that goodwill. Seriously film-makers, stop it. [ BACK ]

*2 And while I normally steer well-clear of casting cheap or tasteless aspersions on the physical appearance of the seasoned performers, I've got to say that it looks like Pamela Anderson is being played by a drag-queen in this movie. And yeah, a footnote within a footnote. How very meta[ BACK ]

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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