Here's a look at the new movie I saw this week.
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra, Kelly Rohrbach, Jon Bass, and Alexandra Daddario
Synopsis: I was just a kid in 1989 when a new prime time series debuted on NBC that put lifeguards in central focus. Was “Baywatch” cheesy and a little unbelievable? Sure. But it had something that drew me in. It lasted just one season, and wasn’t a hit with viewers. At least not on Prime Time. The series was revived in 1991 as a syndicated series and, well, it definitely looked a little different. The new iteration lasted 10 seasons and became a part of the cultural lexicon. It even spawned a few new versions, like “Baywatch Nights” and “Baywatch Hawaii.” Though “Baywatch” and all its versions have been off the air for more than a decade, it’s never left the cultural consciousness. And, amidst the wave of past shows and movies being re-imagined on the big screen, what was old is new again. “Baywatch” lives again, this time as a feature film that brings back the characters we remember — including a few memorable cameos — while telling the story in a different way. “Baywatch” was, ostensibly, a drama. Even the syndicated version was meant to be taken somewhat seriously, though with a grain of salt. This film version is aiming at something else. There’s a proud tradition during the summer of releasing over-the-top, R-rated comedies. “Baywatch” lands squarely in that arena. It also matches up with some of the recent re-makes of classic shows in that it is more of a send up of the original than a faithful adaptation, ala “CHiPs,” which debuted in March. Which isn’t to say the makers don’t have an appreciation for the original show. The main character names have been retained, and both David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson make appearances in the new film. But this is about the new squad, and what was likely an attempt to kick-start a new franchise. I didn’t think “Baywatch” was great, but it was plenty entertaining. Johnson is great movie star, one whose personality and charm can elevate the material. He does that here. Efron has shown his comedic mettle, too. And his scenes opposite of Johnson, and their chemistry on screen together, are the best part of this film. The rest is just OK. The story is about as cliché as it gets, as are most of the characters. The performances in those roles aren’t that compelling, either. “Baywatch” has gotten middling to poor reviews — something Johnson has pointed out on Social Media. That didn’t help its opening week Box Office, but those that went into the movie with the right expectations will likely be pleased with what they see here. This isn’t a great, or even particularly memorable, film, but it’s entertaining. And during this summer season, that’s probably enough to be considered a moderate success. And let’s not forget, the actual performance and execution of the original show wasn’t much to write home about, either.
Rating: R for language throughout, crude sexual content, and graphic nudity. Enter with caution.
Verdict: Three stars out of four.
Friday, June 2 — "Wonder Woman," "Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie"
Friday, June 9 — "The Mummy," "It Comes At Night"
Friday, June 16 — "All Eyez on Me," "Rough Night," 47 Meters Down," "Cars 3"
Wednesday, June 21 — "Transformers: The Last Night"
Wednesday, June 28 — "Baby Driver"
Friday, June 30 — "Despicable Me 3," "The House"