Baywatch (2017)

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Baywatch (2017) poster

Date Created: 10/09/2017
Date Modified: 10/09/2017
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Runtime: 116 min -
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Devoted lifeguard Mitch Buchannon butts heads with a brash new recruit, as they uncover a criminal plot that threatens the future of the bay.
Baywatch is a 2017 American action comedy film directed by Seth Gordon and based on the television series of the same name. Written by Mark Swift and Damian Shannon, the film stars Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach and Jon Bass. The plot follows lifeguard Mitch Buchannon and his team, who in an effort to save their beach have to take down a druglord.

Principal photography began on February 22, 2016, in Florida and Savannah, Georgia. The film was released in the United States on May 25, 2017, by Paramount Pictures, grossed $177 million worldwide and received negative reviews from critics.

In Emerald Bay, Florida, Lt. Mitch Buchannon and his team of lifeguards, including second-in-commmand Stephanie Holden and veteran C. J. Parker, protect the beaches and the bay as part of an elite division known as Baywatch. Having made over 500 rescues in his career, Mitch is beloved by the community, to the annoyance of local beat cop Garner Ellerbee and Mitch's superior, Captain Thorpe. During one of his morning patrols, Mitch discovers a small pouch of drugs washed up near the Huntley Club, which is now under the ownership of businesswoman Victoria Leeds.

At the upcoming tryouts for new lifeguards, three people stand out: surfer Summer Quinn, an old friend of Holden's, Ronnie, a chubby nerd with a crush on C. J. (that is gradually returned), and Matt Brody, a former Olympic gold medal swimmer who fell from grace to grass after vomiting during a relay race and now has to perform community service as part of an unspecified plea deal. Quinn and Ronnie both pass the trials, but Brody refuses to do so and insists that his olympic status alone entitles him to a place on the team. Despite Brody demonstrating his abilities by assisting in the rescue of a drowning woman and her son, Mitch complains to Thorpe that he is unfit as a team player. Thorpe, in turn, insists that rehabilitating his image is necessary to convince the city not to further cut Baywatch's funding.

As Brody begins his training under Mitch, it becomes clear that he is developing a crush on Quinn. The team is called into action when a private yacht catches fire, during which Brody disobeys orders and dives directly under the flames, causing him to nearly drown before Holden and C. J. save him. Most of the boat's occupants are saved, with the exception of a deceased man identified as a city official. When Mitch tries to investigate his body, Ellerbee shows up and informs him that he is not a cop and has no business trying to solve a crime. Brody makes it clear that he agrees, which causes a rift between him and the other lifeguards who support Mitch.

At a party held by Leeds, Brody botches his role as lookout by getting drunk; Mitch retaliates by humiliating him in front of the crowd. Brody, who is effectively broke and homeless because of his poor life choices, goes to him the next morning and begs for a second chance. Mitch agrees and takes him and Quinn to infiltrate the city morgue, where they record two of Leeds' men planting a falsified autopsy report to cover up the fact that the councilman was murdered on her orders. Unfortunately, they are discovered, and though Mitch manages to subdue and capture one of them, the recording is destroyed and Ellerbee is forced to release their suspect on a lack of evidence. Angered, Thorpe threatens to fire Mitch if he oversteps his authority again.

Convinced that Leeds is running drugs out of the Huntley, Mitch and Brody go undercover and sneak into the club kitchen, where they witness her workers retrieving the drugs from barrels of fish and processing them. They contact Ellerbee, only to learn that another body has been found on the beach. Thorpe, enraged that Mitch essentially deserted his post, fires him and names Brody as the new lieutenant. Brody accepts the job reluctantly, and Mitch takes a job as a cellphone salesman.

After finding another pouch of drugs on the beach, Brody steals the second victim's report from Ellerbee and brings it to Quinn, who confirms his suspicion that the man was murdered. Ronnie, upon recognizing the victim as his friend Dave, helps Brody hack into Leeds' servers, revealing her plan to privatize the entire beach by systematically buying out or eliminating every competing business owner.

The team infiltrates a private party on Leeds' personal yacht, discovering how she's been using the hull to smuggle the drugs. Brody is captured and placed in a bait cage to be drowned, and a gloating Leeds reveals that she bribed the corrupt Thorpe to set Mitch up so he could justify firing him before pushing the cage into the water. Just before Brody drowns, Mitch appears and saves him.

The two catch up to Leeds, while Ronnie and C. J. use fireworks to prevent her escape helicopter from landing. Just as they run out, a wounded Mitch, having intentionally stung himself with a sea urchin to boost his adrenaline, uses a Roman candle to blow Leeds up, saving Brody once again. Ellerbee arrives and takes Thorpe and Leeds' henchmen into custody, apologizing to Mitch for doubting him.

In the aftermath, Ronnie and Brody begin relationships with C.J. and Quinn respectively. Mitch, having been reinstated, formally inducts Quinn, Ronnie, and Brody into Baywatch and introduces them to their new captain, Casey Jean (Pamela Anderson).

Cast[edit]

Dwayne Johnson as Mitch Buchannon
Zac Efron as Matt Brody
Priyanka Chopra as Victoria Leeds[7]
Alexandra Daddario as Summer Quinn
Kelly Rohrbach as C. J. Parker
Jon Bass as Ronnie Greenbaum
Ilfenesh Hadera as Stephanie Holden
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Garner Ellerbee
Rob Huebel as Don Thorpe
Hannibal Buress as Dave the Tech
Jack Kesy as Leon
Oscar Nunez as Councilman Rodriguez
Amin Joseph as Frankie
Belinda as Carmen
Izabel Goulart as Amber
Logan Paul as Zayn
Charlotte McKinney as Julia[8]
Arian Foster as Himself
Seth Gordon as Helicopter Pilot
David Hasselhoff as The Mentor
Pamela Anderson as Casey Jean Parker[9][10]

Production[edit]

A Baywatch movie was first announced in 2004, although the movie became stuck in development hell over the years, with multiple writers penning drafts.[11] In July of 2015, Sean Anders was replaced by Seth Gordon as director.[12][13] On October 2, 2014, Dwayne Johnson was attached to star in the lead role, and Justin Malen was set to rewrite the script.[14] Damian Shannon and Mark Swift wrote the latest draft, and the film would be comedic in style.[12] On August 10, 2015, Zac Efron signed on to star in the film, and Beau Flynn and Ivan Reitman joined to produce with Johnson's Seven Bucks Productions.[15][16] On November 9, 2015, Deadline reported that seven actresses were among the short list testing for the lead female role, Alexandra Daddario, Ashley Benson, Nina Dobrev, Alexandra Shipp, Shelley Hennig, Bianca A. Santos, and Denyse Tontz.[17] On November 18, 2015, Johnson confirmed Daddario would play Summer, a lifeguard, and the love interest of Efron's character.[18][19]

On January 4, 2016, Kelly Rohrbach's casting as C. J. Parker was confirmed by Johnson's Instagram post.[20] Damian Shannon and Mark Swift wrote the screenplay, while the final list of producers were Johnson along with his partner Dany Garcia, through their Seven Bucks Productions, as well as Flynn, Reitman, Michael Berk, Douglas Schwartz, and Gregory J. Bonann.[20] On January 20, 2016, Johnson again posted on his Instagram about casting Ilfenesh Hadera as Johnson's love interest.[21] On January 27, 2016, Jon Bass was cast in the film to play Ronnie, a funny, awkward, and skilled disco dancer at the beach, who falls in love with Parker.[22] On February 12, 2016, Hannibal Buress joined the cast of the film to play a bay community local.[23] On February 17, 2016, Priyanka Chopra signed on to star as the antagonist in the film.[24] The role was originally written for a male. In March 2016, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II joined the cast as Ellerbee, a police officer who is constantly reminding Mitch that he has no real authority over the bay.[25] On March 12, 2016, after several weeks of speculation, singer Belinda confirmed she would join the cast.[26] Jack Kesy and Amin Joseph were also cast in the film.[27] Vine star Logan Paul announced that he is in the film, but his scenes were later cut.[28][29][30][31] Izabel Goulart also appeared.[32]

Filming[edit]

Principal photography on the film began on February 22, 2016, in Deerfield Beach, Florida, with the setting in Broward County, Florida, while the TV series was set in Malibu, California.[33][34] The film was shot in Miami and Savannah, Georgia.[23][35][36] In late March 2016, filming started in Tybee Island, Georgia.[37]

Release[edit]

In January 2016, Paramount Pictures scheduled Baywatch for a May 19, 2017 release, which was previously set for a sequel to Terminator Genisys.[38] In December 2016, Paramount pushed the release date back one week to May 26, 2017, to avoid competition with Alien: Covenant.[39] In April 2017, the film was moved one day earlier, to avoid direct competition with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.[40]

Box office[edit]

Baywatch grossed $58.1 million in the United States and Canada and $119.3 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $177.4 million, against a production budget of $69 million.[5]

In the United States and Canada, the film was initially projected to gross around $40 million from 3,642 theaters over its five-day opening weekend, with the studio predicting a more conservative $30 million debut.[41][42] It made $1.25 million at 2,554 theaters from Wednesday night previews, similar to fellow mid-week R-rated releases We're the Millers ($1.7 million) and Let's Be Cops ($1.2 million).[43] However, after making $4.6 million on its opening day (including Wednesday night previews) and $5.7 million on Friday, five-day projections were lowered to $25 million. It ended up grossing $18.5 million in its opening weekend (for a five-day total of $27.7 million), finishing third at the box office, behind Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales ($63 million) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ($20.9 million).[6][44] In its second weekend the film grossed $8.8 million (a drop of 52.5%), finishing 5th at the box office.[45]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 19% based on 187 reviews and an average rating of 4/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Baywatch takes its source material's jiggle factor to R-rated levels, but lacks the original's campy charm – and leaves its charming stars flailing in the shallows."[46] On Metacritic the film has a score of 37 out of 100 based on 47 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[47] However, audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[6] Dwayne Johnson responded to critics' reviews on Twitter, saying the film was made for fans, who he said loved it.[48]

Writing for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers praised the cast while acknowledging his dislike for the film. Travers rated it two out of four stars and said, "Think of yourself sitting down for a big two-hour wallow in instant stupid with a vat of popcorn, slathered in fake butter and possibly a mound of melted M&Ms on top. It feels great chugging it down, then your stomach hurts, your head aches and you puke the whole thing up so you can forget about it in the morning. That's Baywatch in a nutshell."[49] Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 1.5 out of 4 stars, writing: "As was the case with CHiPS, The Dukes of Hazzard, The Beverly Hillbillies, Car 54, Where Are You? and I’ll just stop there, when you make films from junk TV, more often than not you’re going to wind up with a junk movie."[50]

Home media[edit]

Baywatch was released on Digital HD on August 15, 2017[51] and on Blu-ray and DVD on August 29, 2017.[52]

Accolades[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
2017 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie: Comedy Actor Dwayne Johnson Nominated [53]
[54]
Zac Efron Won
Choice Movie: Comedy Actress Alexandra Daddario Nominated
Choice Movie: Villain Priyanka Chopra Nominated
Choice Movie: Ship Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron Nominated