Watching the New Baywatch with Beers

June 02, 2017

By Aaron Goldfarb, June 02, 2017

Is there anything better than sneaking some beer into a crummy movie and getting after it? But what if your theater actually served beer? Say 40 rotating taps-worth, which you could order to your seat during screenings?

Such is the case at Alamo Drafthouse, a wonderful theater chain with 22 locations across the country, one by my apartment in Brooklyn. With summer movie season having just arrived, I thought the best way to get through it would be by watching all these aspiring blockbusters while drinking heavily. Movies traditionally have three acts, so I’d drink three beers at each.

Fire Island Sea Salt Ale
I’ve never held this Long Island contract brewery in much regard, but when I saw the beer’s name, it seemed like a perfect match for this oceanic film. I received it just in time for the pre-show “entertainment,” a series of trailers for movies clearly meant for idiots. That, of course, forebodes that they think the movie I was about to watch is for idiots too. Luckily, Sea Salt Ale was delicious. A blonde beer with just a slight salinity, it was the perfect pounder to get me into the mood for whatever dreck was surely to come. 89/100

We’re now deep in the “Did anyone really want this?” era of studio releases. With movie executives unable to trust that people would actually pay money to watch something new and imaginative and about something they’ve never even heard of before, they are forced to snap up IP (intellectual property – a misnomer if there ever was one in the case of Baywatch) and adapt it, remake it, reboot it, prequelize it, and/or sequelize it. Yes, readers, you read that right, Baywatch II is coming, even as this one currently holds a dreadful 19% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

One well-worn niche of the remake is in taking a crappy television show from our youths, then turning it into a movie that is self-aware of its own supposed awfulness. Apparently that instantly makes bad line readings and absurd plot-lines hilarious. The Brady Bunch movies of the mid-1990s essentially invented this, 21 Jump Street (2012) is the Citizen Kane of the genre, and here’s Baywatch, the nadir. A self-aware movie that isn’t quite self-aware enough to realize it’s dreadful.  

Based on the syndicated boobs/butts/abs/pecs-stravaganza that aired from 1989 through 2001, this R-rated big screen version somehow remains more chaste, way less erotic than what you might have seen on the USA Network back then.

If you go in thinking that, sure, this movie will be bad, but I bet I get to see some gratuitous nudity – don’t. The total tally for the entire film: 1 chubby male rump and 1 penis, both played for groan-worthy comic effect. The Rock, meanwhile, is treated like a tattooed eunuch, the most romance he gets involving a brief kiss with female cypher Stephanie (Ilfenesh Hadera), simply utilized as a diversion to get him out of a pickle before he’d ever have to use his own.

Lost Nation Gose
The Sea Salt Ale was so delightful, I decide to stick with the saltwater theme. I’ve long been a fan of Lost Nation Gose, one of the best, most pure examples of the style available in America. Served in a pounder can, this tart yet dry beer has a kiss of citrus, lending tropical notes that made the beer all the more apt for a Florida-based movie. Unfortunately, Lost Nation’s The Wind wasn’t also available, a citra-hopped version of the beer which is *fingers to lip kiss sound*. 93/100

Within just the first couple scenes of the movie, you’ll start wondering who you feel most embarrassed for. Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Kelly Rohrbach, or yourself for being in the theater and not wearing a disguise.

Johnson is as muscle-bound as ever, but unable to charm his way through an intolerable script that still feels like a first draft. As Mitch Buchannon (yes, the same character David Hasselhoff played), The Rock is forced to lob insult after insult at the scrawnier, dopier Matt Brody (Efron). This is supposed to be the humorous repartee that defines these sorts of films, unfortunately, Mitch’s insults usually amount to simply calling Brody a boy band member (“Hey New Kids!”) or inferring he shops at Baby Gap. 

Writers Damian Shannon and Mark Swift should maybe watch a Veep marathon to learn what good comedic insults sound like. They should maybe watch a Veep marathon so they don’t have time to adapt any more bad movies.

To discuss the plot is pretty much pointless.”

As for Efron, I know body-shaming ain’t cool, but he looks like a mannequin. Wig-like hair flopping over some eyebrows that appear they were airbrushed on at a nearby boardwalk T-shirt stand; steroidal biceps framing a midsection that surely hasn’t ever even been in the same room as a carb. However they built their bods, neither male lead has one ideal for vigorously swimming the open waters. Neither has the ideal physique for merely buttoning a dress shirt, pouring themselves a cup of coffee, or reading Russian literature.

And, poor Rohrbach as C.J. Parker (yes, Pam Anderson at one time). Beautiful and busty, you probably knew she once dated Leo, but did you also know she graduated from Georgetown? I bet she wishes she was back laboring at either task. She’s game for the lame flirtations she has to volley at poor-man’s-Jonah-Hill Ronnie (Jon Bass), but ultimately underutilized. Smart with a sly humor, I could see her becoming a decent star, if this flick hasn’t already ruined her career.

To discuss the plot is pretty much pointless, with most of it taking the Baywatchers off the bay and into the mansions and parties of Florida’s local elite, where a red herring of a drug scandal needs to inexplicably be solved by our Speedoed heroes.

There is, of course, plenty of ’80s-esque gay panic along the way, nearly every time Mitch and Brody show any sort of esprit de corps (naturally, Efron gets in drag at one point). There are dick jokes galore too, with one slapstick dick-stuck-in-a-chair scene lasting so long even the Farrelly brothers probably started yawning.

There’s a Forrest Gump-level golden oldies soundtrack, featuring songs like Lionel Richie’s “Say You, Say Me” and the Beach Boys’ “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” that the core audience for this film surely doesn’t know (and for which the producers surely overpaid for the rights). While bad movies always think a dance sequence is inherently funny – or maybe Shannon and Swift just needed a way to fill five minutes of running time without necessitating more bad dialogue.

There are, as expected, rote action scenes on jet skis that wouldn’t make even the lunkiest meathead utter “Bad...ass.” And, I’m still waiting for Guinness to get back to me on this, but the cinematic fist bump record may have been broken in this picture, with The Rock giving a pound to pretty much everyone he encounters. Does the movie have a blooper reel over the closing credits? Of course the movie has a blooper reel over the closing credits, betting you’ll want to spend another five minutes of your life watching the actors flub lines that would have been better left flubbed.

Montauk Driftwood Ale
Montauk’s beers have become so ubiquitous at supermarkets, bodegas, and drug stores in the city, it’s enough to make you wonder if some mega-corp acquired them while you weren’t paying attention. Driftwood Ale is their flagship, an English-style pale ale which is not a style people much ask for any more. Malty and a tad syrupy with an alcohol by volume just a tick higher than I’d like (6%), getting through this pint was a chore after the previous two crushers. It would end up be a fitting beer for a fittingly tough-to-get-through third act. 75/10

One of the most unforgivable things Baywatch’s director Seth Gordon does – aside from wasting the great Hannibal Buress in a lame side role – is to leave The Rock absent from most of the interminable third act.

Good for him, I suppose, for getting out from under the cost of a few extra shooting days, but Efron et al can’t carry a movie. Of course, these days the third acts of movies are just endless been-there-seen-that explosion marathons, so over-edited you can’t tell what’s going on, so loud you’ll want to plug your ears with buds (and maybe listen to whatever erudite podcast is currently queued up on your smartphone). Buzzed on three beers at this point, my mind luckily started to wander.

I think we all agree we love The Rock. Who doesn’t love The Rock? But at the same time, could we get him in one great movie? Why do we give him a pass for continually appearing in mindless schlock? He’s unquestionably a talented guy. He could pull off snappy zingers. He could nail the occasional dramatic scene. He could surely handle a steamy sex scene too. What I started thinking is... why not remake/reboot/re-whatever True Lies, with Johnson taking over Arnie’s role? Now that was some “IP” that was actually somewhat intellectual, a mostly-forgotten action comedy property surely worth a remake.

Alas, they don’t make movies like True Lies any more, and I’m sure by this time next year, The Rock will be playing A.C. Slater is some Saved by the Bell reboot. Hmmm... I might actually enjoy that more than this. 

If viewed while drinking beers - D
If viewed sober - F

ZX Ventures, a division within AB InBev, is an investor in October
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