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Movie Review

Being a buff, bronzed, beach lifeguard is more than just a job. It's a calling. A way of life. A responsibility that demands absolute, unwavering commitment. And it's one that Lt. Mitch Buchannon and his fellow Baywatch lifeguards CJ Parker and Steph Holden take very, very seriously.

Mitch can spot someone about to drown before they realize they're going under. No wonder he's saved more than 500 lives. And given his preternatural physique, there's little doubt this godlike beach superhero will rescue at least 500 more before he hangs up his omnipresent life preserver for good.

Yeah, guarding the beach at Emerald Bay is more than just a job. It's more like being … a marine. So if you want to get a job there—and there are an unheard-of three slots open this season—you'd better be prepared for more than just an interview. Instead, it's more like Navy SEALs training.

Two-time Olympic champion Matt Brody thinks his gold medals and impossibly ripped abs are resume enough. Never mind the fact that his out-of-control substance abuse ended his Olympic career in a YouTube worthy way—and not a good way. Mitch isn't impressed, but he is willing to give him a shot (after strong encouragement from his boss, Captain Thorpe, to hire the former champ, that is).

Preternaturally pudgy Ronnie Greenbaum, meanwhile, has been trying to make the team for years now—compelled by his overpowering, um, admiration for CJ's oft-on-display feminine form. What he may lack in raw physical ability and lean muscle mass, however, Ronnie makes up for in determination, a character quality that Mitch quite likes.

As for would-be Baywatch lifeguard Summer Quinn, well, we actually don't see much of her swim-and-rescue skills. But she's just as pretty as CJ and Steph. And apparently that's good enough. Soon she, Matt and Ronnie don their cherished Baywatch swimsuits.

And, really, not a moment too soon. Because in addition to typical beach crises like kite surfers crashing and kids falling off the pier, a new threat has been washing ashore: packets of the nasty drug flakka.

Mitch has a theory about who might be responsible: Victoria Leeds, owner of the posh Huntley Club which borders the beach. But to prove it, he and his team are going to face risks like they've never had to take before. Never mind that Mitch's own boss and the police aren't too crazy about him trying to stop crime on the beach in addition to saving drowning tourists there.

But if you sign up to guard the lives of those on the beach, Mitch would say, you've signed up to battle whatever threats the tide brings in … even if they're more deadly than jellyfish and sharks, riptides and poisonous sea anemones.

No one ever said being a Baywatch lifeguard was going to be easy … no matter how good almost all of them look doing it.

Positive Elements

Mitch takes his job seriously, almost to a fault, and he's determined to stop these criminal shenanigans. At times, that means going further than the police and his supervisor want him to go. In the end, however, Mitch's (and his team's) commitment to protect Emerald Bay puts a stop to the drug trade that's happening there.

Mitch (and, for that matter, Steph) aren't impressed by cocky Matt Brody. Even after Matt becomes a lifeguard, Mitch strives to help the self-absorbed former Olympian see that their job depends on teamwork if they're to be successful. Mitch tells a group of would-be guards, "Baywatch works because we follow the rules. You slack off here, people die." He also says that Baywatch is about "sacrificing for something much bigger than yourself."

Matt initially scoffs at Mitch's earnestness, and the newbie is determined to prove he can outperform the veterans. He can't, of course, and he's quickly humbled. A chastened Matt begs for a second chance, which Mitch and the team give him, and which he makes good use of.

Various characters put their safety and even their lives on the line for each other.

Spiritual Content

After watching CJ running (and, of course, bouncing), Ronnie says, "She's the reason I believe in God." Someone else says earnestly, "Thank God."

Sexual Content

CJ has a penchant for wearing her swimming suit with the zipper a long way down, revealing her cleavage in almost every scene. Steph and Summer wear revealing swimwear as well, though they're not as buxom as CJ (whose body, often shown moving in slow motion, transfixes Ronnie's gaze). Many women on the beach wear barely there bikinis, which the camera continually pans across in the film's myriad beach scenes. Several scenes emphasize Mitch and Matt's shirtless prowess as well.

CJ is aware of Ronnie's sexualized infatuation with her, and she doesn't seem bothered by it. She meets him in the team's coed shower (where they're supposed wear their suits, but Ronnie never got the memo), and compliments him on his exposed (to her, not us) manhood. (We do see his bare rear, though.) Another painful, public scene involves Ronnie's anatomy as well. Ronnie and CJ eventually end up together, and we see him apparently naked on her couch, but strategically covered by a blanket. CJ's shown in underwear.

Summer and Matt have the hots for each other as well, though Summer plays hard-to-get for most of the movie. After meeting hotshot Matt, she half-jokingly, half-seriously asks him, "Why don't you put a baby in me?" Summer calls Matt out for looking at her chest; he does the same after she looks at his crotch.

The film's most egregious "sexual" content—and the scene for which it earns the "graphic nudity" disclaimer in the MPAA's rating—isn't really sexual at all. It involves a dead man in a morgue. As a joke, Mitch has Matt inspect his uncovered genitals for evidence of drug use. Matt's not spared embarrassment as Mitch snaps pictures of him touching the man. And the camera shows us everything several times (including returning to the scene in the movie's outtakes during the credits).

Several couples kiss. There are multiple crude, casual conversations about various characters' body parts. There's a crass verbal allusion to masturbation. A bikini-clad woman whom Mitch rescues tells him, "If you want me, you can have me." Matt goes "undercover" by dressing as a woman in a very short dress; we also see him grab his crotch. Matt, who's been trapped underwater, imagines that Summer is kissing him, only to come to and realize that it's Mitch who's been blowing air into his lungs. We hear a verbal reference to selfie pics of genitals.

Violent Content

There's a fair bit of violence here, some of it of the slapstick variety (Ronnie has a painful close encounter with a palette of wood he falls on), other moments quite deadly (one baddie literally gets blown to bits with a massive Roman candle, and we see that person's dismembered foot fall to the ground).

There are also gunfights (one Baywatch member gets shot) and fistfights (including, as you might expect, some pretty brutal beat downs by former professional wrestler Dwayne Johnson, who plays Mitch). Someone is knocked out and tossed in a bait cage, which is then thrown into the water. Another man is shot and killed.

A victim who's been stabbed to death has bloody fish chum poured onto him to attract sharks to make it look as if he was mauled to death. We see his hideously chomped-on remains.

A jet ski chase sends many civilians scurrying for safety; ditto Matt recklessly riding a motorcycle across the beach and to the end of a pier to rescue drowning people. A kite surfer crashes violently into a reef, slicing his head open; a mother and her two children fall from a pier when a railing breaks. Mitch and his team save two women from a burning boat that eventually explodes spectacularly. A woman steps purposely on a man's foot while wearing high heels, grinding her foot into his. Mitch puts a diaper receptacle on a baddie's head, then pushes him into a pool where we see him floating and, at the very least, unconscious. Fireworks nearly blow up a helicopter. Matt clocks someone hard in the face.

Crude or Profane Language

About 80 f-words (at least five of which are paired with "mother"). Fifty or so s-words. God's name is misused around 30 times, including four uses with "d--n." Jesus name is abused eight times. We hear nearly 30 crude euphemisms for the male anatomy, and at least half a dozen for various female body parts. Other vulgarities include: "a--," "a--hole," "d--n," "h---," "p-ss," and "b--ch." We see one crude hand gesture.

Drug and Alcohol Content

As mentioned, much of the movie's plot revolves around Mitch and his team identifying and putting a stop to the distribution of the hallucinogenic drug known as flakka on Emerald Bay's beaches. We see several small Ziplocked bags of the stuff, as well as taped kilos of the crystalline substance. A woman in a bikini has a small pouch of it tucked under the strap of her briefs, and we hear that she and another friend got very high on the stuff. Mitch rightly tells his compatriots that the drug is a nasty one, a substance that endangers those on the beach (including a young boy who finds a pouch of it there before Mitch nabs it from him).

Alcohol (wine, beer, martinis, scotch, champagne) is consumed socially throughout the film. We hear that Matt has had a severe substance abuse problem in the past, having abused both drugs and alcohol. It's a habit that ended the former Olympic champ's career. At a low point, we see Matt drink several shots quickly. He's clearly drunk and apparently passes out on the beach (we see him wake up with a bottle next to him the morning after).

Other Negative Elements

Matt's career came to a YouTube-worthy end when he vomited during an Olympic relay race, earning him the dubious nickname the "Vomit Comet." He later throws up in a pool again after imbibing too much alcohol, prompting still more people at a party to recall his awful nickname.

Mitch, Matt and Summer hide in refrigerated morgue lockers. Matt's on top of a deceased woman, and decomposing fat from the corpse above him falls onto his face and into his mouth. Matt says of the morgue, "Smells like yogurt."

Mitch meanly calls Matt all manner of pop culture-culled demeaning nicknames, such as "New Kids on the Block," "Jonas Brother," "NSYNC," "High School Musical," "Hot Wheels," "Beaver," etc., as well as "mermaid," "butterfly," "princess" and the like.

There's a sarcastic joke about an "absentee father."

Conclusion

This big-screen reboot of Baywatch is exactly what you'd expect a 21st -century, R-rated version of the campy TV series to be. It's actually quite a lot like an episode of David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson's old show (which aired from 1989 to 2001 and became a global hit), complete with a great many slow-mo shots of voluptuous lifeguards running across the beach, only with a lot more profanity and a seriously gratuitous scene involving a naked dead man.

In the end, however, even Dwayne Johnson's formidable biceps and sense of humor can't save this raunched-up remake from drowning in an excess of nostalgic naughtiness.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults

Credits

Rating

R

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Dwayne Johnson as Mitch Buchannon; Zac Efron as Matt Brody; Priyanka Chopra as Victoria Leeds; Alexandra Daddario as Summer Quinn; Kelly Rohrbach as CJ Parker; Ilfenesh Hadera as Stephanie Holden; Jon Bass as Ronnie Greenbaum; Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Sgt. Ellerbee; Hannibal Buress as Dave; Rob Huebel as Captain Thorpe; David Hasselhoff as the Mentor; Pamela Anderson as Casey Jean Parker

Distributor

Paramount

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

May 25, 2017

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Adam R. Holz

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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