Debuting in 1989, Baywatch defied expectations and went on to become one of the most watched television shows in the world. The idea of lifeguards routinely solving crimes and dealing with the forces of nature seemed far-fetched at the time, and still does today, but there was a perfect blend of interpersonal relationships and spectacle to keep viewers entertained. It is somewhat surprising that the big screen adaptation never lives up to the bar that was set by the series. In fact, the film often feels like a step backwards.
Arriving on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD combo pack today courtesy of Paramount Home Media Distribution, Seth Gordon’s adaptation of Baywatch attempts to offer a comedic take on life in Emerald Bay. The plot revolves around the problematic relationship between beloved Lt. Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson), the head of the elite Baywatch lifeguard division, and the cocky Matt Brody (Zac Efron), a former Olympic gold medalist assigned to the squad. Not pleased by the blatant public relations move by his superiors, Buchannon insists that Brody proves his merit in order to truly earn a spot on the team. This does not sit well with Brody who believes his past Olympic performances are proof enough that he can handle himself in the water.
What Brody fails to realize is that there is more to Baywatch than saving people from drowning. The crew also help solve crimes that the police are unable to crack. One such case involves a rash of drugs that seem to be appearing around a country club owned by local businesswomen Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra).
Following the 21 Jump Street template of taking an 80s drama and turning it into a raunchy adult comedy, Baywatch strives for big laughs, but often comes up short. The major problem is that there are too many characters and not enough jokes, or character development, to go around. Take Jon Bass’ character, Ronnie Greenbaum, for example, he is clearly meant to be the comic relief in the film. However, what is the point of having Greenbaum when Buchannon and Brody are constantly hurling one-liners at each other? Furthermore, the female members of the team, while strong, are given very little to do in the grand scheme of things.
Add in two underwritten romances competing for screen time alongside the central bromance, and you get a recipe for a muddled and somewhat forgettable comedy. Aside from featuring an extended cut of the film, the Blu-ray has four special features for fans looking to hangout with the cast a bit longer. The most interesting is Continuing the Legacy which looks at the ways the film attempts to pay homage to the series while still forging its own raunchy path. While there are far worse comedies one can endure than Baywatch, the film ultimately proves to be a forgettable trip to the beach.
Meet the Lifeguards
Continuing the Legacy
Stunts and Training
Deleted & Extended Scenes