'Baywatch' Review Round-Up: The Action Comedy Can't Save Itself From Drowning

It's time for the second big studio comedy of the summer to hit theaters in the form of Baywatch, the big screen adaptation of the popular TV series from the 1990s that starred David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson.

Hitting the beach are Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron as a couple of musclehead lifeguards who get caught up in some high stakes action and danger. All the trailers have teased an action comedy in the same vein of 21 Jump Street, but if the first Baywatch reviews are any indication, then it's nowhere near as good, and it barely keeps itself afloat.

Read on for the Baywatch review round-up after the jump.

Owen Gleiberman at Variety doesn't think the film took the right approach to adapting the TV show:

"Baywatch," as a series, now looks jaw-droppingly goofy and harmless (actually, it did then too), and the movie would have been smart to satirize the show's innocuous underworld drama and cheeseball male gaze, playing up the dated absurdity of it all. But no: The film's director, Seth Gordon ("Identity Thief"), and its screenwriters, Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, have glommed "Baywatch" onto the theme of the moment: namely, that a bunch of good-looking SoCal lifeguards, devoted to keeping their beach a safe cool magical place, are just like — wait for it! — a family.

Steve Rose at The Guardian says the movie fails like many TV show adaptations before it:

Previous movies based on retro TV shows have taught us, the only way to repackage such brand-name yet dated material is with heavy measures of irony and self-satire. And even then they invariably fail: CHiPs, The Dukes of Hazzard, The A-Team, everything except 21/22 Jump Street, basically. This lacklustre comedy heads off in that direction but it doesn't have the wit or the stamina to stay afloat. By about halfway in, the gags dry up and the story sinks like an overweight tourist who took a dip too early after the all-you-can-eat surf'n'turf buffet.

Frank Scheck at The Hollywood Reporter notes that merely being R-rated isn't enough to make the movie funny:

That the film's guiding creative ethos was apparently to push the envelope and go for an "R" rating becomes painfully clear. The endless profusion of F-bombs seems to indicate that the screenwriters must have thought they would be paid per use. The raunchy humor extends to gay panic gags strangely similar to the ones found in the recent, similarly misbegotten CHIPSBaywatch strains for a vulgarity that never comes remotely close to being funny.

Gav Murphy at IGN compares Baywatch unfavorably to 21 Jump Street:

Before seeing Baywatch, I felt like the whole thing had a lot of promise but unfortunately that's hidden behind stagnant comedy which has been sold to us under the cheap guise of something recognisable from 25 years ago. 21 Jump Street worked because it was not only an unexpected genre-shift, but a genuinely funny satirical comedy with consistently strong performances and likeable characters, but Baywatch wastes its attractive cast on tired jokes and nothing – not even the element of surprise – on its side.

Matt Goldberg at Collider was also equally unimpressed with Baywatch, writing in this review:

Baywatch, on the other hand, is a comedy in search of an ideology. In the opening scene, it looks like it's going to be an over the top, gleeful parody with dolphins high-fiving as the title slams down behind Mitch, who's carrying an injured parasailor to safety. But then the movie will repeatedly to return to the notion that cops, not lifeguards, should be solving the case of drugs leaking into the bay. It doesn't know if should deflate the bombast of its comedy or go for broke. This leaves it awkwardly standing in the middle ground, clinging to any dick joke it can find for safety.

Baywatch Review

Jack Shepherd at The Independent says The Rock is the anchor of Baywatch, but he can't save the movie:

Despite a relatively funny first third (minus one extended dick joke, but featuring a brilliant title drop), Baywatch falters in the second, eventually collapsing into a firework-filled mess that makes very little sense and treats the audience like idiots. One person, for instance, waves their gun around threateningly for five minutes without firing because of a silly speech, reminiscent of Guardians of the Galaxy's 'O-o-h Child' finale but executed so poorly there's still a sour taste in my mouth. Even The Rock's gravitational charm can't hold the set-piece together.

Brian Truitt at USA Today says the comedy just doesn't land:

A lot of the humor just doesn't connect and tries way too hard, from one dude getting his junk stuck in a beach chair to a running gag involving salad. Chopra, whose villainess seems bored by the whole situation, would rather be eviling it up in a James Bond movie, and the fireworks-laden climax is full of punch but leans predictable and lacks excitement.

This flick might be bigger than the original Baywatch — from the production budget to its stars' muscles — but lacks the cheesy fun.

Chris Nashaway at Entertainment Weekly didn't hold anything back in his review:

It's official: we've now entered the critical, Code Red phase of Hollywood's remake epidemic. What seemed to start off as a winking and benign recycling of the pop culture past has mutated into something far more insidious. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Baywatch — the rare movie that even the Teflon-coated, thousand-watt charisma of Dwayne Johnson can't save. It's possible that this sloppy, scattershot nod to '90s jiggle TV was inevitable. After all, we'd already cycled through such wafer-thin small-screen flotsam as ­Charlie's Angels, The A-Team, and CHiPs. Freakin' CHiPs?! But apparently the barrel of disposable retro television properties is as bottomless as Nietzsche's abyss.

Alonso Duralde at The Wrap calls Baywatch dead on arrival, adding:

A summer franchise movie that can't decide if it wants to be a hard-R bawdy comedy, a d-bag-comes-of-age tale or a fairly unironic reboot of the glossy TV show (which ran from 1989-2001), "Baywatch" fails at all three, despite the best efforts of the perennially game Johnson and Zac Efron, two performers who have subverted audiences' assumptions about their limitations and have emerged as solid comic actors. It's too bad they're saddled with a film that somehow manages to fail to live up to the low expectations one would have of a movie called "Baywatch."


That's pretty much the general consensus regarding Baywatch. Even the reviews that are being counted positive by Rotten Tomatoes don't have a lot of nice things to say. There's praise for Dwayne Johnson doing the best with what he's given, and one review even calls supporting cast member Jon Bass the breakout star of the film. However, even those reviews note the over abundance of dick jokes with a lack of cleverness in the script and comedy department. There might be some laughs to be had here and there, but otherwise, Baywatch seems like a bit of a dud.

You can find out for yourself when Baywatch arrives just before the weekend on May 25.