'Baywatch' review: Barely funny, far from sexy
It certainly doesn’t bode well for a comedy movie if its most memorable joke happens within its first 15 minutes and that joke involves engorged gonads being engulfed by beach furniture.
That joke itself is only funny because it digs deep into our shared histories of being immature, of memories of our own virginal years where sex is nothing more than a gag. Seth Gordon’s Baywatch, which clocks at nearly two excruciating hours, is full of that kind of nonsense.
It revels in the embarrassment of its adult characters, most of whom are characterized to have been stuck in their prepubescent stages with their penchant for breasts bouncing in slow motion and mystery set-ups fashioned after Hardy Boys novels.
Baywatch sees itself as the spiritual successor to the hugely popular television series of the same title. What it does differently is that instead of taking the rebooting business seriously, it busies itself satirizing its source, turning itself into an overblown sketch where plot and characterization exist only to serve a shoddy punch-line.
Today, hairy and wiry David Hasselhoff and surgically-enhanced Pamela Anderson are hardly remarkable.
Keep in mind however that decades ago, when the world didn’t have internet and relied on monthly issues of Sports Illustrated and late night television to ease their sexual fantasies, Baywatch, the television series that has Hasselhoff and Anderson donning skimpy swimsuits to play overachieving lifeguards, was quite a phenomenon, seizing the opportunity to utilize its action slash crime pretenses to cover up for its prolonged exposure of tanned body parts.
In this age of Instagram and all of its Crossfit-sculpted members who populate their feeds with their half-naked bodies against beautiful beaches, those guilty secret pleasures of the defunct television showare are rendered obsolete.
Shift in objectification
The attempts of Gordon’s reboot to resuscitate the sexiness of the show with montages of Zac Efron completing an American Ninja obstacle course and Dwayne Johnson dragging a couple of jumbo-sized refrigerators are futile.
This shift to objectify is intriguing. Perhaps the movie’s strategy is to woo women with its male leads’ chiseled bodies while the men are preoccupied with a barrage of bawdy jokes. This however just reveals such a deplorable inability to really escape from the exact same paradigm of using raunch for sales.
In any case, the movie’s women lack real personality or any true motivation.
They are but excuses to infuse the movie with some confused female empowerment slant, perhaps to atone for the fact that the television show abused Anderson’s sex appeal to boost ratings. It is all skin-deep however. The movie still presents its women as villainous schemers or easy-on-the-eyes sidekicks.
As a comedy, Baywatch is barely funny. As a crime flick, it is thin and elementary. As a self-deprecating satire, it is weak and somewhat pointless.
All in all, the film is just plain lousy. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas’ 'Tirad Pass.' Since then, he’s been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.