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Film / Baywatch (2017)

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Baywatch is a 2017 comedy film starring Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron, based on the television series of the same name.

Reimagined as an Affectionate Parody of the original Baywatch series (similarly to the Jump Street films' treatment of their own source material), this film pokes fun at its premise while also embracing it — and provides lots of eye candy for both the male and female gaze.

Mitch Buchannon (Johnson) is a no-nonsense lifeguard who is forced to work with cocky Olympian Matt Brody (Efron) when evil local club owner Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra) threatens to overrun the beach with crime and corruption.

Alexandra Daddario, Ilfenesh Hadera, and newcomers Kelly Rohrbach and Jon Bass also star, while original Baywatch stars David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson appear in cameo roles.

While a sequel was planned before release, the poor box office killed those plans and, according to the current license owners, almost took the entire Baywatch brand with it, including freezing discussions of a potential television reboot.

Baywatch provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: One of the nicknames Mitch gives Brody is "High School Musical", which was Zac Efron's first major role.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: Brody now has a troubled history and is forced to become a lifeguard to fulfill a community service mandate.
  • Adaptational Curves: Several examples:
    • The film's version of Mitch Buchannon is considerably more muscular, as befits someone played by Dwayne Johnson.
    • Ilfenesh Hadera's Stephanie Holden and Alexandra Daddario's Summer Quinn are considerably more voluptuous than the versions from the TV show played by Alexandra Paul and Nicole Eggert respectively.
    • Inverted with Kelly Rohrbach's CJ Parker. While very well endowed, she doesn't come close to matching the famous proportions of Pamela Anderson.
  • Adaptation Deviation: The series took place in Santa Monica, California, the film takes place in southern Florida.
  • Affectionate Parody: The movie gives a comedic take on the TV series.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Summer, who is attracted to Brody but also shares some attraction towards CJ when she sees her running on the beach.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: In disguise, Matt Broody makes for a very attractive woman.
  • Bad Boss: Victoria Leeds. If you're an associate of hers and you either don't get her what she wants or so much as ask for more money, expect to have an unfortunate "accident" happen to you sooner or later.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Brody catches a thief using a false-bottom cooler to steal from beachgoers by simply putting it on top and scooping the loot right in. Then Brody brings it to Ellerbee... and uses it to steal something off his desk.
  • Better than a Bare Bulb: The film hangs a lampshade on practically every trope and cliche the original series is known for while dialing all of them up to eleven.
    Matt Brody: "All of what you're saying sounds like something out of a really, like, entertaining yet far-fetched TV show."
  • Big Bad: Victoria Leeds, the new owner of the Huntley Club. She's actually a rather serious and threatening antagonist for a comedy.
  • Big Damn Kiss: CJ plants one on Ronnie to calm him down as he's having a panic attack about a computer station he has no experience with.
  • Black Comedy: At the end of the film, Mitch blows Victoria to pieces using a giant Roman candle. But its played for laughs.
  • Blackmail: Leeds' method for getting people to do what she wants involves finding out about their vices, illegal deals and dirty secrets and then blackmailing/bribing them into obedience. She is unable to do this with Chen, who had no dirty secrets to speak of.
  • Brainy Brunette: Summer has very dark hair, has extensively studied the Baywatch manual, and has a working knowledge of marine biology.
  • The Cameo: Vine star Logan Paul has a blink-and-you'll-miss-it scene as one of the guys in line to try out for Baywatch. Word of God indicates he initially had more scenes, but they were cut.
  • Canon Foreigner: Ronnie, Dave, and Victoria are all original characters.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Several, including Ronnie's computer skills and the adrenaline-boosting sea urchins.
  • Composite Character: Matt has Eddie's backstory as a Heartwarming Orphan (as well as his general status as Butt-Monkey), and Cody's Olympic swimmer status.
  • Daddy Issues: CJ apparently has some issues about being abandoned by her father, if her rant during her introduction of the obstacle course called "The Absentee Father" is anything to go by.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Mitch is set up as The Leader early on, and Dwayne Johnson gets top billing, but Matt is the one who undergoes Character Development and grows from a selfish asshole to The Hero.
  • Destructive Savior:
    • Brody nearly runs over several civilians on a hijacked dirtbike just to rescue three people. Mitch calls him out on this.
    • Mitch himself isn't immune to this. Chasing one of Leeds' thugs leads him to trash a little girl's bedroom.
  • Determinator: Ronnie. He previously tried out for Baywatch twice before and failed. He makes the cut the third time because Mitch and CJ are so impressed by his spirit and unwillingness to give up (although his real reason for wanting to join Baywatch is because he's completely in love with CJ, and wants to be closer to her).
  • Dirty Cop: Captain Thorpe. Leeds bribed him to set Brody up as the new leader of Baywatch and provided Thorpe an excuse needed to fire Mitch (two murder victims made to look like beach accident victims).
  • Dumb Blonde: Averted. CJ Parker may be a gorgeous, buxom blonde, but she also happens to be a very competent lifeguard.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: CJ Parker, who is so enthralling that even the girls become dumbstruck by her:
    Summer: Why does she always look likes she's running in slow-mo?
    Ronnie: You see it too?
    • When the original Casey Jean (Pamela Anderson) shows up in the end to train the new members and everyone is entranced, complete with her hair flipping in slow-motion. Lampshaded by Stephanie.
    Stephanie: This might take a while...
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: Mitch becomes a cell phone salesman after being fired from Baywatch.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • The shot of Ronnie's ass in the shower scene.
    • Mitch telling Matt to check a corpse's 'taint' as part of a prank.
    • Ronnie taking off his shirt to prepare for training, complete with flabby arms, belly and some odd hairy nipples.
  • Fanservice: Not only is C.J. a sexy and competent lifeguard, she also has some serious dance moves.
  • Flirtatious Smack on the Ass: CJ does two of these. Both of which involve Ronnie. First, she playfully smacks his rear in the shower scene before leaving. Then at the end after they sleep together, she offers to make him "cinnabuns" and smacks her own rear, strongly hinting at more coitus.
  • Friend on the Force: Mitch has one of the Vitriolic Best Buds variety. Deconstructed as Officer Ellerbee resents Mitch's interference.
  • The Generic Girl: Stephanie doesn't get much focus.
  • Give Geeks a Chance: CJ goes out of her way to encourage the shy and awkward Ronnie, due to her romantic interest in him.
  • Hopeless Suitor: Averted. Nerdy and unremarkable Ronnie is enamored with the stunningly beautiful CJ, and although it seems like he has no chance with her it turns out that the affection is mutual and she becomes his girlfriend at the end of the film.
  • Indecisive Parody: The movie can never seem to decide if we're supposed to take the story seriously or just see everything as a straight-up parody.
  • Ineffectual Loner: Matt starts this way as a lifeguard.
  • Informed Attractiveness: While CJ is no doubt gorgeous, she is not noticeably more attractive than Stephanie or Summer, yet is fawned over as an Even the Girls Want Her goddess.
  • Informed Judaism: Had Ronnie not made a passing mention of how he learned to dance from "Hebrew school," nobody in the audience would have known he was Jewish.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: In-universe the police officer treats Matt saying they should leave things to the cops as this. He agrees with him, but still thinks he's a "blue-eyed demon."
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Both Mitch and Brody are dicks to each other due to their disdain of each other's work ethic or lack thereof, but they do genuinely do end up working together in order to deal with the crime situation endangering the beach. Also, CJ isnít fond of Brody (although he never says or does anything particularly disrespectful towards her), but she begrudgingly finds him a place to crash when she finds him sleeping outdoors.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Cops vs. Lifeguards Who Take Their Jobs Way Too Seriously.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Victoria Leeds is a murderous psychopath and crime lord, and clashes greatly with the film's increased focus on comedy (the show had the occasional criminal showing up, so she wouldn't have been too odd there).
  • Lighter and Softer: Than the TV series, which dealt with somewhat serious crime and domestic drama plots while the movie tries to be an unabashed comedy.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Leeds' fate, due to being on the receiving end of a very large roman candle. Chunks of her start falling afterwards.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron spend a large portion of the movie shirtless.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Alexandra Daddario and Kelly Rohrbach in the tight red swimsuits are guaranteed to make a powerful impression on the audience.
  • My Eyes Are Up Here:
    • Summer reminds Matt of this when he's distracted by her chest - he replies he knows her face is up there... but it's so close to her boobs...
    Summer: Not here! [cue bouncing] Here! [points at eyes]
    • He gets to do the same towards the end.
  • N-Word Privileges: Matt tries to guilt a black cop by throwing the cop's use of "you people" back at him. Mitch puts a stop to it, remarking: "Uh uh. You're just tan."
  • Nice Girl: CJ is incredibly sweet and kind to Ronnie, continually encouraging him despite his awkwardness.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "I'll die when the tide stops and the moon drowns. Until then... [grabs fireworks] I'm oceanic, motherfucker!" Leeds is clearly unimpressed, given she has time to react with "How tacky" before being hit.
  • Pretty Boy: Matt Brody. Mitch repeatedly throws this in his face by nicknaming him after boybands.
  • Race Lift:
    • Stephanie here is black, when on the TV show she was white.
    • More obviously, Mitch. He was played by a white actor in the original show and by a half-black, half-Samoan actor in the movie.
  • Raging Stiffie: Ronnie is so attracted to CJ that when she performs the Heimlich maneuver on him, he gets one. Out of embarrassment, he jumps onto a wooden sunbed and gets it stuck in between the slats. Nevertheless, it plays a role in her mutual interest in him.
  • Remake Cameo:
    • David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson. This isn't really a spoiler, considering that they are both listed in the opening credits.
    • The same happens in the Japanese dub, when Takayuki Sugo, who voiced Hasselhoff in the dub of the original TV series, also dubbed him in this film as well.
    • Interestingly enough, this doesn't happen in the Mexican Spanish dub, albeit with a very bizarre twist: rather than being voiced by the same voice actor of the series (Juan Alfonso Carralero), Hasselhoff is voiced by Roberto Carrillo, who voiced him as Michael Knight in Knight Rider.
  • Running Gag:
    • The never-ending string of pop bands that Mitch uses to refer to Brody.
    • The little figure of Mitch in the fish tank that keeps changing.
  • Satellite Love Interest: CJ is pretty much just there for Ronnie to impress.
  • Sea Hurtchin: A weaponized case, as Mitch stings itself with an urchin so the adrenalin high makes him stronger, even if out of his mind.
  • Serious Business: Mitch's approach to lifeguarding, par for the course for the show. Also extends to the beach as a whole, with a huge degree of fanfare surrounding the Baywatch tryouts.
  • Setting Update: The original show was in Los Angeles, while the movie is in Broward County, Florida.
  • Sex Equals Love: CJ and Ronnie eventually sleep together, offscreen, thus starting a relationship.
  • Shown Their Work: Brody's attempt to rescue drowners shows the realistic problems to doing so alone and without proper gear — for the former, there is more than one person in danger and the need for more lifeguards is necessary; as for the latter, Brody nearly drowns himself while trying to rescue one of the drowners without a lifeboard.
  • Significant Name Overlap: invoked Mitch Buchannon and his mentor, Mitch Buchannon.
  • Stealth Sequel: Mitch's mentor is Mitch (from the original TV show). Also, Casey Jean (played by Pamela Anderson) is mentioned as being the leader of Baywatch's Hawaii Team. The final few seasons of the TV show were set in Hawaii. The film's ending also reveals that CJ is the daughter of Casey Jean from the television series.
  • Straw Feminist: Victoria Leeds has shades of this. She's resentful over the fact that her brothers inherited the family business while she had to work from the ground up and all of her murder victims happen to be men.
    Brody: You're fucking crazy!
    Leeds: If I was a man, you'd call me "driven".
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: The Baywatch team repeatedly butting into the police's investigations only gets them into trouble as they are not trained law enforcement officials. Eventually, Mitch gets fired from his job because he seemingly neglected his duties as a lifeguard leading to a guy getting killed by a shark.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Matt was initially this to the Baywatch crew, but fixes his attitude after his first screw-up.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Some trailers show Mitch blowing Leeds up with a Roman candle.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Or in this case girlfriend as the insanely hot CJ genuinely is attracted to the goofy yet endearing Ronnie.
  • Vulgar Humor: Lots of it, including the case listed on Raging Stiffie, and Brody being forced to mess with the nether regions of a corpse.
  • X Meets Y: In-universe. Matt is one of the greatest swimmers in the world, and is described as "like if a human fucked a jet-ski."