'Baywatch': What the Critics Are Saying

Courtesy of Paramount
'Baywatch'

Early reviews for the Dwayne Johnson-starrer suggest viewers might be better off going to the beach instead.

Reviews for Seth Gordon's lifeguard reboot Baywatch are in — and they are not kind.

The film, which brings back the characters of the popular 1990s TV series of the same name, stars Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron as dueling lifeguards who uncover a local criminal plot that threatens the safety of their beloved bay.

Baywatch currently has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 13 percent, compared to Johnson's last two films, The Fate of the Furious and Moana, which had scores of 66 percent and 96 percent, respectively. 

According to The Hollywood Reporter’s Frank Scheck, the film makes good on its promise of an “R” rating, but to the detriment of its humor: "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.”

Scheck doesn’t necessarily fault the film’s stars, particularly praising Johnson, saying he “employs his big toothy grin, effortless charm and surprising comic gifts to make the film almost watchable.”

Ultimately, however, Scheck wasn’t impressed with the film, which he dubbed “a big-screen reboot so lifeless and mechanical that even its end-credits outtakes are not amusing."

The New York Post's Reed Tucker, agrees, saying that despite "a few amusing stabs at satire," the filmmakers "use the beachy setup as little more than a vehicle for generic hard-R and gross-out gags."

Entertainment Weekly’s Chris Nashawaty found similar issues with the film’s humor, or lack thereof, calling the pic “not good” and “not very funny.” Taking issue with the script, Nashawaty calls Damian Shannon and Mark Swift’s screenplay a “lazy barrage of sad-trombone product-placement gags and red-band boobs-and-boners jokes.”

In a two out of four-star review, USA Today’s Brian Truitt found Baywatch has an apparent identity crisis: “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 castmembers 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.”

Not everyone was left cold by the film, however. IndieWire’s Jude Dry gave Baywatch a “B-“ rating, praising Johnson and the pic’s “strong ensemble.” Despite what Dry calls some “incongruities” — the overkill of some jokes, a mediocre villain and female characters that are “not memorable” — the movie has some charms. Writes Dry, “Baywatch won’t blow anything out of the water (except for the boat it sets on fire), but it will certainly make a splash.”

Johnson reacted to the critical reviews of the film by tweeting, "Oh boy, critics had their venom & knives ready. Fans LOVE the movie. Huge positive scores. Big disconnect w/ critics & people." 

He later reiterated some of the positive audience reactions to the film, adding, "Veryyy happy audience = best part of my job."

May 26, 12:13 p.m. Updated with Johnson's reactions to critical reviews of the film.

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