Movie Pass: "Baywatch" Hits The Big Screen_00000000.jpg
Movie Pass: "Baywatch" Hits The Big Screen
01:42 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

A “Baywatch” movie needn’t be high art – its TV inspiration certainly wasn’t – but did it have to be this inane? Crude and silly, searching for the laughs in this R-rated comedy is the equivalent of scouring the beach with a metal detector looking for lost items.

When the credits finally roll, they include outtakes in which the actors flub lines, and, tellingly, even those aren’t particularly funny.

Granted, with its leering camerawork and absurd crises, the series that thrived in syndication was practically self-parody at its height. Yet one would think that director Seth Gordon and a team of writers could at least have more fun riffing on its quirks, which they try to do with jokes about women looking as if they’re running in slow-motion and the fact these lifeguards behave like cops, even though they’re not.

For the most part, the movie has been shaped into a kind of buddy comedy, one seemingly designed to put the appeal of Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron to the test. The only consistent gag, in fact, has Johnson insulting Efron with various teen-heartthrob nicknames (“One Direction,” “High School Musical”), and even those begin to hit the low-tide point well before it’s over.

Johnson plays Mitch Buchanan, Emerald Bay’s head, who is forced to hire Efron’s Matt Brody, a disgraced Olympic gold medalist being brought aboard as a PR stunt. Beyond saving drowning kids, they’re dragged into a nefarious plot involving a wealthy club owner (“Quantico’s” Priyanka Chopra) who is importing drugs using her beachfront establishment as a front.

There’s a fair amount of violence as that storyline unfolds, but for those expecting sex or nudity, the R rating is almost wholly attributable to language – perhaps understandable, given that the movie plays like it’s pitched toward adolescent boys.

Johnson’s presence might be a come-on to that demographic, but the “Baywatch” name probably isn’t. Those old enough to appreciate cameos by the original stars, meanwhile, will likely be staring at their watches by the time they appear.

“Baywatch” joins a long and not very distinguished list of movies tenuously linked to their TV source material, a transplantation process that has produced more flops than the odd hit like “21 Jump Street.” Among the modest wrinkles is a nerdy lifeguard wannabe (Jon Bass) who becomes positively tongue-tied every time he’s around the blond bombshell C.J. (model/actress Kelly Rohrbach, previously showcased, appropriately, in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition).

Their interaction, and Rohrbach’s slow-mo jogging, might sell a few posters. But like just about everything else that falls under the new “Baywatch’s” umbrella, it’s skimpy compensation to justify a water-logged trip back to the beach that, the Rock notwithstanding, sinks like a stone.

“Baywatch” premieres May 25 in the U.S. It’s rated R.