The first round of critical reviews for Baywatch are finally in. In an unbelievably packed year for summer blockbusters, Baywatch already stands out as one of the most unexpected film reboots to come along in quite some time. Reimagining the iconic, beach-set soap opera originally starring Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff as a raunchy R-rated action comedy certainly wasn’t the way many fans or casual moviegoers likely expected this one to go either. Nevertheless, that’s exactly the route that Paramount Pictures decided to take with this version of Baywatch.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Baywatch also boasts one of the more stacked casts of beautiful, talented actors appearing together in any film this year, including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Priyanka Chopra, Kelly Rohrbach, and more. With experienced comedy director Seth Gordon behind the helm and Paramount creating a stellar marketing campaign for Baywatch over the past few months as well, it’s looked like everything was going in the film’s favor up until this point, no matter how surprising that may have appeared at the time.
But it looks like not everything is all it’s cracked up to be with this new reboot. Indeed, the first official reviews for Baywatch have finally been released online, and while there are a few positive reactions floating around out there right now, the general consensus regarding the film appears to be a largely negative one. Take a look for yourself below, as we’ve assembled some SPOILER-FREE excerpts, with links to the full reviews provided for those interested.
TheWrap – Alonso Duralde
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.”
THR – Frank Scheck
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 CHIPS; Baywatch strains for a vulgarity that never comes remotely close to being funny.
USA Today – Brian Truitt
Everything one would expect in a Baywatch movie — cleavage, bouncing body parts, constant flexing and the excessive use of slo-mo — is present. (Plus, a couple of the old TV cast members show up for cameos.) Yet the remake yearns to be both sendup farce and straight action film, tripping along the way and failing to grasp either. When the plastic aquarium version of the usually ultra-charismatic Johnson gets more laughs than the real deal, there’s something seriously wrong.
Collider – Matt Goldberg
Baywatch has no idea what to do beyond saying “f*ck” a lot and having Dwayne Johnson rag on Zac Efron. The movie feels like an odd mish-mash of scripts, with one story being more of a buddy flick while another tries to create a team dynamic. Perhaps there’s some version of Baywatch that works, but it’s not the one director Seth Gordon ended up with.
Heroic Hollywood – Jeff Grantz
I thought Seth Gordon, known primarily for the first Horrible Bosses (which I loved) and Identity Thief (which I did not), did a fine job directing the film. There are a few action-y beats that easily could have been pretty dull in the hands of a lesser filmmaker. As I said before, the goal of this film was to capture the same magic that 21 Jump Street did, and in that regard, I think Baywatch succeeded. Is it a perfect film? God no, not by any means.
HeyUGuys – Scott Davis
If you’re not of a certain age, the sun-drenched, sweat-glistened and slow-motioned extravaganza probably won’t mean the same to you as those who were there for its inception, but for those who vividly remember those Saturday early evenings watching a slice of “Americana”, it holds a special place in their heart. Now, almost 30 years and numerous attempts later, a film version has found its way to big-screen thanks, in part, to Dwayne Johnson. Does it swim or sink without trace? Well, somewhere in the middle. A frenzied “doggy-paddle” if you will.
Variety – Owen Gleiberman
Playing up the insults and playing down the jiggle, a Dwayne Johnson/Zac Efron revamp of the cheeseball muscle-beach TV series is stupidly entertaining…for a while.
This definitely isn’t the early boost that both the studio and the stars of the film were likely hoping for, especially with only a few days left until it’s released theatrically. With most of the reviews claiming that the film’s gross-out, raunchy humor goes too far and doesn’t land nearly enough as it should, it’ll be interesting to see how this mostly-negative response affects buzz going into Baywatch‘s release this week.
Then again, with actors like The Rock and Zac Efron acting as the leads of the film, it’s entirely possible that the early reactions won’t have much of an effect on the film at all. The Rock is, after all, more popular than he ever has been before right now, and audiences have proven themselves ready and willing on more than one occasion to spend a fair amount of money to see him on the big screen, even if the film they’re actually going to see doesn’t live up to expectations. Only time will tell, but as of right now, it’s looking like Paramount’s risky Baywatch reboot could very well go down as one of this year’s biggest disappointments.
Source: Various (see the above links)