A new feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at the Dwayne Johnson reboot of one of the most popular TV shows of all time, “Baywatch,” the continuation of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, “Dead Men Tell No Tales,” and the travelogue “Paris Can Wait” starring Diane Lane.
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies, the Dwayne Johnson reboot of one of the most popular TV shows of all time, “Baywatch,” the continuation of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, “Dead Men Tell No Tales,” and the travelogue “Paris Can Wait” starring Diane Lane.
On the surface “Baywatch,” the big screen reboot of the cheesy 1980s television show, is about beach bunnies who uncover a criminal plot that may bring with it trouble to the Baywatch lifeguards. That’s the logline, but in reality it’s actually about nostalgia, hard beach bodies and the inestimable charisma of its star (and possible presidential candidate) Dwayne Johnson.
Johnson takes over for TV lifeguard David Hasselhoff as Californian Mitch Buchannon, the gung ho leader of the elite Baywatch lifeguard squad. “Our team is the elite of the elite,” he says. “The heart and soul of the beach.” He’s a beach superstar, so beloved people curve giant sand sculptures in his honour. He keeps the waters safe but there is trouble brewing.
The Bay isn’t drawing them in like it used to and City Council has cut their funding. To stir up some publicity, and perhaps attract a few more bikini clad sunbathers, beach bigwig Captain Thorpe (Rob Huebel) hires troubled Olympian Matt Brody (Zac Efron). He’s the “Stephen Hawking of swimming” with two gold medals but he’s also a troublemaker on probation.
“That’s why we can afford him,” says Thorpe. “We got him on his community service.”
Brody butts heads with the Baywatch team—Stephanie Holden (Ilfenesh Hadera), Summer Quinn (Alexandra Daddario), Ronnie Greenbaum (Jon Bass) and CJ Parker (Kelly Rohrbach)—but especially Buchannon. The new guy may be one of the best swimmers in the world but he’s a loner and doesn’t play well with the team. “He’s reckless and insubordinate,” says Buchannon.
Despite their differences when they aren’t rescuing people from the briny depths the team is forced to come together to uncover a nefarious plot by businesswoman Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra) to privatise the entire bay. “I’m not a Bond villain,” she coos. “Yet.”
Cue the wet and wild action.
“Baywatch” is one of the most popular TV shows of all time and it wasn’t because it was a searing examination of the human experience, tinted with dollops of wry humour or shrewdly pointed satire. It was because it featured SloMo teen dreams come to life, cleavage galore and cheesy action. The movie is a bigger budget version of the same. There’s no real stakes. We know things will get damp and dangerous for Mitch and Company but by the time the end credits roll everything will have sorted itself out and a sequel will be firmly in place. There’s plenty of action, gunfire and juggernauting jet skies but no jeopardy of any kind, just a generic crime story dressed up in a skimpy bathing suit.
Beyond the sea bound action is a crude sense of fun. The big screen “Baywatch” pokes gentle fun at its small screen sibling. “Why does she always looks like she’s running in slow motion?” asks new recruit Summer of CJ’s beach gait. “Do you see it too?” replies Ronnie. As the action bounces along the dumb and/or gross jokes begin to pile up threatening to crush the whole thing under their weight.
Johnson brings muscle and comic timing while Efron brings abs of steel and a willingness to do almost anything for a laugh. He doesn’t always hit the mark but you have to give him high marks for leaving his dignity at the door.
The supporting cast aren’t given much to do other than glam it up—in the party scenes—or strip down—in the beach scenes. Kelly Rohrbach it’s time for your (cleavage’s) close up. You get the idea. As the overweight and eager Ronnie, Bass is Josh Gadd Lite or maybe an echo of early Jack Black.
Depending on your point of view “Baywatch” is either a mindless summer diversion or a continuation of Hollywood’s exploitation of our collective nostalgia. Judge your interest level accordingly. Either way it fails to grab the raucous good times of “21 Jump Street,” another, more successful TV reboot.
SpongeBob SquarePants belongs to the same genus of entertainers as Soupy Sales, Stan Laurel and Pee Wee Herman. They’re sweet and unpredictable with a surreal streak that transcends silly and borders on high art.
For the uninitiated, SpongeBob (voice of Tom Kenny) is the star of his own wildly popular Nickelodeon show and looks like a bright yellow kitchen sponge with googly eyes and little brown shorts. The animated invertebrate lives in the underwater city of Bikini Bottom where he is a fry cook at Krusty Krab, the most successful restaurant in the sea.
“The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water” begins on a usual day in Bikini Bottom. The Krusty Krab is packed with customers enjoying the signature Krabby Patty, a burger so delicious that when the top-secret recipe goes missing, resulting in the Great Krabby Patty Famine, Bikini Bottom is thrown into chaos. “Everything we have ever known has ben destroyed,” says SpongeBob. “Looks like we’ll have to change the name of Bikini Bottom to Dirty Bottom,” replies Plankton (Mr. Lawrence).
To save the town SpongeBob must team with an unlikely ally, rival restaurateur Plankton, to recover the recipe even if it means a trip to the surface.
This is a story involving time travel, human sacrifice, food trucks and a pirate named Burger Beard (Antonio Banderas) with a family friendly message about teamwork wedged in for good measure. It’s a fairly linear tale but told with a sense of anarchy that promises and delivers a mind-bending array of jokes and sea shenanigans.
It doesn’t feel quite as unhinged as 2004’s “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie”— which featured David Hasselhoff’s body hair as a plot point—and gets a little water logged when the characters hit land and turn into CGI creations, but it never loses its sense of silly whether it is above or below sea level.
“Hop,” a new Easter themed flick starring Russell Brand and James Marsden, is probably the only kid’s movie to feature a scene set at the Playboy Mansion. You see, it’s about a wayward rabbit named EB (voice of Russell Brand) searching for a place to live and since bunnies live at Hef’s place it seems like the perfect place for him to crash. Funny? Not really, but that’s what passes for jokes in the literal minded “Hop.”
The movie starts on Easter Island—there’s that literal thinking again—the home base of the Easter Bunny (voice of Hugh Laurie) and his son EB. On the other side of the planet Fred O’Hare (James Marsden) is an unemployed SoCal slacker house sitting for his sister’s wealthy boss. Both EB and Fred have one thing in common—daddy issues. EB wants to be a drummer but his father wants him to come into the family business and Fred’s dad wants him to get a job—any job. When EB and Fred hook up in Hollywood the pair might be able to help one another with their problems and in the process save Easter.
“Hop” feels more like an hour-and-a-half advertisement for plush stuffed bunnies than it does a movie. EB and his bunny and Easter chick friends are cute but clearly more time was spent on the marketing angle than the story.
It’s not that the story is bad really, it’s just average, like it was an afterthought. Movies for kids have taken strides forward in recent years but “Hop” feels like a jump backwards. Its humor and broad acting style is directed at little kids, yet the movie is rated PG, which means that parents can’t just send their kids solo. Grown-ups might get a chuckle out of EB’s jellybean gag—he poops jellybeans and says at one point, “I just jellybeaned all over your dreams”—but the odd cameo from David Hasselhoff—he’s going for the William Shatner self-aware shtick—is as funny as you’d imagine a cameo from The Hoff to be. Trust me, there’s not much here for anyone over 4 years old. “Harvey” this ain’t.
There are many reasons to hate “Hop.” Some will find the secularization of Easter offensive; some will be annoyed by the obvious shilling for Easter Bunnies Are Us but the real reason to dislike the movie is that it a lame and lazy excuse for children’s entertainment. Kids get fed enough pabulum in their formative years, they don’t need it at the movies as well.