-The dumbest and most poorly edited comedy in recent memory meets the ultimate dopey teen movie.

It’s best to judge a mainstream comedy on whether or not it is able to accomplish its main objective: to make the audience laugh. Issues with production value, acting, and directing can be covered up by a strong script that keeps the jokes coming and distracts the audience from any faults that the movie may have. To a certain degree, the new summer comedy Baywatch accomplishes this. However, when pieces of the plot begin spinning out of control and the film loses its track on certain recurring gags, it’s like pulling back a certain and revealing a hideous monster behind it. Baywatch may be a guilty pleasure, but it’s akin to the hideous monster.

Based on the hit 90s TV show with similar characters, Baywatch brings in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Mitch Buchannon, an obnoxious leader of a lifeguard team at the center of one of Florida’s most toured beaches. His friendly and funny demeanor, mixed with a knack for sniffing out trouble has made Mitch a local celebrity in commanding his team of guards. It’s about to be the summer, and Mitch needs some new recruits to add to the existing layovers, like Kelly Rohrbach as C.J. or Ilfenesh Hadera as Stephanie.

Recruits go through a crazy training process to make the cut, and two stand out: the beautiful and motivated Summer (Alexandra Daddario) and the out-of-shape-but-overzealous-should-be-played-by-Josh-Gad Ronnie (Jon Bass). Mitch’s superiors also force him to add two-time Olympian Matt Brody (Zac Efron), a gifted athlete that seems to only care for himself and his addiction for attention. The new team solidifies, but it may be too late to stop a brewing criminal enterprise of drugs and murder on Mitch’s beach, possibly run by newcomer to town Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra).

The team all has great chemistry with one another, mainly because the two integral parts in Johnson’s Mitch and Efron’s Matt are played by two immensely likable actors. We all know that The Rock has impeccable charisma, but he shows it all off here, while Efron looks like he hasn’t eaten anything with saturated fat in it for several years. Seriously, get this guy a cheeseburger, he’s starting to look unhealthy (but still gorgeous).

The movie plays itself as eye candy, focusing on Efron or Alexandra Daddario to use their looks to dig themselves out of incomplete character tropes, but there’s enough here in terms of character arc for Johnson and Efron that the acting in this movie is acceptable. The performances and screenplay were surprisingly decent, and the movie stayed pretty funny throughout. It was self-aware enough to make fun of the fact that beach lifeguards are solving crime, but also smart enough to include enough strands of comedy to encompass multiple audiences, whether it’s immature, gross-out, slapstick, etc. As a summer movie for a larger demographic, it definitely starts off on the right path.

The big problems come in the actual third act plot devices and the production values. Much of the movie, which is filmed on on-screen beach locations and beach towns, really works and has a nice, colorful sheen to it. The other parts, though, are saturated with computer generated effects that look as bad as they have in over two decades. A scene where a boat catches fire, or a scene where they chase each other in jet-skis both look so terrible compared to some of the gorgeous CGI you can get in a modern action movie. Some of it looks so bad that the audience gets immediately taken out of the movie, and it isn’t the type of mistake that you are able to ignore. About 40% of this movie is a complete eyesore, and really ruins the environment that the movie tries to put the audience in.

Finally, no one is going to go into a Baywatch movie attempting to take the plot seriously, but the villain character, her motivations, and her desire to “privatize the beach” is so immensely silly and uninteresting that the movie falls apart once the characters really get to know one another. It was a nice build-up, filled with plenty of laughs, but it does fall apart at the end. I just can’t pass it because of the outward, major flaws. It is really fun, and could be a worthwhile rental, though.

 

Baywatch (2017)

Genre: Comedy

Director: Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses, Four Christmases, Identity Thief)

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efton, Alexandra Daddario, Jon Bass, and Kelly Rohrbach

with: Priyanka Chopra, Yahya Abdul-Mateen, and Hannibal Buress

RT Score: 19%

 


Some of you may know this if you consistently read my reviews, but I am a huge sucker for a dumb romance that has plot contrivances coming from every angle you could think of. I’m a big Twilight fan, and hell, I’m even a Fifty Shades fan. When movies like this come out that look like agonizing angst and forbidden love, I’m all in to go for a two hour session of bad jokes and evil laughs on my end. I mentioned in my brief discussion of Unforgettable that this love can extend to romantic thrillers, but it’s often compartmentalized into the ‘forbidden love’ category. Nicholas Sparks movies have a high hit rate for me, also.

After sitting through Everything, Everything, I can comfortably say that it did not deliver the kind of pulp and unconscionable silliness that makes a movie like this worth sitting through. Frankly, it was just boring.

Amandla Stenberg is Maddie, a teenager who has never been outside of her beautiful California home. She’s sick, and has some sort of immunodeficiency virus that prevents her from fighting off generic infections like everyone else. Going outside and living a normal life would likely be fatal to her, very quickly. Her days are instead spent with homeschooling, reading, and drawing, her only real contact being her nurse, the nurse’s daughter, and her overprotective mother, who just happens to be a doctor. One day, Maddie’s world changes when a long-haired boy who wears a lot of black named Olly (Nick Robinson) moves next door. They quickly catch each other’s eye and form an online relationship, that soon turns into rebellious lust that risks Maddie’s health. There’s a twist, and if you don’t catch it two minutes into the movie, you should never watch another movie again. You are a disgrace to the rest of us.

Just a quick rant before I continue: if you’ve seen the movie, how do they actually ensure sterilization of the house? The nurse comes in, and there’s like a decompression unit at their front door that cleanses any air that would leak into the house so the atmosphere inside is contained, but it doesn’t sanitize the nurse’s or mother’s clothing. Sure, they keep their hands washed and do some radiation trick with Maddie’s clothes, but wouldn’t the outside world still cling to their clothes and hair? Perhaps this is all explained by how the twist resolves this, but this whole process was maddening to me the entire time. There MUST be more sanitary procedures to meet to ensure the daughter doesn’t, you know, die.

The chemistry between Maddie and Olly is rushed, primarily because we have to get to bigger moments in the film before they can really get used to each other. Things get a little inconsistently paced at times. Their idea of bonding is a recurring joke about a bundt cake that was so bad, it actually made me cringe out of being so physically uncomfortable. There’s a subplot here about abuse that makes Olly stronger as he learns from Maddie’s strength. Spare me. His outfits get lighter in color as he becomes less of an asshole, awesome.

I don’t want to trash on the young actors, but Nick Robinson is just horrible. He doesn’t sell any real emotion, and he has this hunch that doesn’t appear to be a byproduct of the character. It’s clear that there’s no confidence in his acting, yet his character is supposed to be somewhat defiant. His awkwardness is met with a decent performance by Amandla Stenberg, who manages to pack some personality into Maddie. The film represents the ultimate coming of age for Maddie, yet, I’m not convinced she goes through much of a change. This is more from the screenplay than Stenberg’s acting, but she doesn’t particularly help make her more likable. She just reads her lines and emotes adequately.

You’ll either be bored, or you’ll be somewhat invested until the whole thing loses you with a shoddy ending. Either way, it’s a cornball movie, and it sucks.

 

Everything, Everything (2017)

Genre: Romance

Director: Stella Meghie (Jean of the Joneses)

Starring: Amandla Stenberg, Nick Robinson, Anika N. Rose, Ana de la Reguera, and Taylor Hickson

RT Score: 47%

 

 

 

 

 

 

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