“Baywatch”

I need to stop seeing movies just because they have Dwayne Johnson. Who am I kidding? He’s he most electrifying man in entertainment after all (WWE joke). He’s too good for “Baywatch” and this movie is just another studio cash grab.

Veteran lifeguard Mitch Buchannon (Johnson) recruits a new batch of guards to join his team. This includes the tough Summer Quinn (Alexandra Daddario), socially awkward Ronnie (Jon Bass), and the cocky former Olympian Matt Brody (Zac Efron). Mitch and Brody automatically dislike each other in buddy comedy fashion, but have to put their differences aside when they discover drugs are surfacing on the beach.

People laughed at me when I said I was seeing “Baywatch.” Besides seeing it for Johnson, I actually saw potential in this movie. The original show was a cheese fest and could easily spawn a satirical adaptation ala “21 Jump Street.” Sadly, “Baywatch” isn’t that adaptation.

“Baywatch” is directed by Seth Gordon, who made the brilliant transgressive comedy “Horrible Bosses.” “Baywatch” is rated R like “Horrible Bosses,” but Gordon and the writers do nothing with it other than show a penis and spout a few dozen F-words. It’s not transgressive, offensive, meta, and worst of all, not funny.

Johnson and Efron have good chemistry, and they’re clearly doing their best to entertain the viewers, but it’s sadly not enough to overcome the long length time, redundant narrative, and overly serious tone. Do we need a tortured soul subplot in the middle of a vomit gag?

“Baywatch” is two hours of Mitch lecturing Brody on his selfishness and calling him a boy band name, then Brody admitting he screwed up and redeeming himself. Brody’s back story of puking during a team swim meet is sad and pathetic instead of funny.

How many comedies do we need with a dead body gag? How many do we need with a guy getting his junk stuck in public? How many do we need with someone clumsily falling into a pool with their clothes on? There’s already a “Baywatch” sequel in the works, so is there room for improvement? Yes. Will it improve? Probably not.

Grade: D-

Advertisements

“Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates”

It’s that time of year, folks! The time for the annual R-rated summer comedy. “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” is this summer’s crowd-pleasing raunch fest.

Adam DeVine and Zac Efron are the titular characters, Mike and Dave, and these two are the guys you don’t want at your party. They arrive, energize the party, and ruin it with their shenanigans. Their parents are fed up and tell them they aren’t invited to their sister’s wedding, unless they bring dates to keep them civilized.

Meet the hot messes, unapologetic mean girl Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) and recently single Alice (Anna Kendrick). When they learn of the boys’ dilemma, they pretend to be “respectable as fuck” to get a free Hawaii trip out of the boys. And then of course, the slapstick high-jinx ensue.

SPOILER ALERT (Well, if you consider formulaic spoilers)!

“Mike and Dave” may not be the most refreshing comedy released, but it was a lot better than the trailer let on. The trailer sells us that the boys will figure out the girls’ scheme, the girls will fall for the boys, and in the end, they’ll end up together while growing up. Yep, that’s pretty much it!

However, the four stars have winning chemistry and their comedic timing is occasionally near-perfect. Between DeVine delivering awkward phrases followed with their blunt meanings, Efron parodying the “What’s in the box” scene from “Se7en”, and Plaza  and Kendrick intentionally and unintentionally causing chaos, I was laughing throughout the movie.

The other thing that surprised me about “Mike and Dave” is that the four leads were more human than expected. We see Dave wants to be more independent, Alice is trying to get over an ugly breakup, and Tatiana is doing bad deeds to cheer up Alice. Mike is the only one who feels antagonistic, but even he stops being a jackass by the second half.

“Mike and Dave” isn’t a special comedy due to the formula and some scenes that are more drawn out than a Judd Apatow movie, but it’s still a good date movie or a hangout movie. Check it out!

Grade: B

“Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising”

Comedy sequels aren’t usually my jam since they try to recapture their predecessor’s magic, *coughs* “The Hangover Part II” *coughs*. But “Neighbors 2” doesn’t have that problem. In fact, it holds its own and improves upon the first “Neighbors.”

Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) are now expecting their second child, buy a new house, and sell their home they’ve had since the first movie. They’re stressed when they realize that they’re not only under a 30-day inspection trial, but that a sorority moves next door, led by the charismatic freshman Shelby (Chloe Moretz). And if you saw “Neighbors,” you know where this is going.

“Neighbors 2” begins slightly rough with a sex gag strongly reminiscent of its predecessor’s opening scene, and a couple of tasteless vomit and poop gags. Once Shelby is introduced and we’re reunited with Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron), “Neighbors 2” takes off.

Mac and Kelly have the same shtick as they did in “Neighbors,” being the young couple who thinks they’re cool and hip. Surprisingly, we spend a lot more time with Teddy, who’s trying to find value and self-worth. Sounds melodramatic, but the situations he’s in are too hilarious and charming to miss.

Shelby and her sorority sisters have a positive message in the movie regarding sorority politics, and their motive as a party-privileged sorority is believable. It also leads to jokes about what is and isn’t sexist without getting too mean or insensitive.

“Neighbors 2” repeats a lot of the same jokes from its predecessor; however, there are some they manage to carry on without getting repetitive. I was the only one laughing at a scene where Mac’s boss evacuates the office to avoid another airbag incident (see “Neighbors”).

Tone-wise, “Neighbors 2” doesn’t come off uncertain like the first one. I liked “Neighbors 1,” but it bugged me how it wasn’t sure if it wanted to be a dramatic comedy or a slapstick one. “Neighbors 2” is more confident and is what the first one wanted to be: a slapstick comedy with human elements.

Grade: B+