A Critical Film Analysis of ‘Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding’ (2003)January 7, 2012
Many of you (two of you) have been asking for this blog post for a very long time (about 2 weeks). So here we go.
My love affair with this particular movie started on a rainy day in 2003. I was home from school because it was probably athletics day so my Mum let me stay home. The midday movie came on. A familiar theme played… Let’s set the mood, shall we?
Yes, this show is a joke. It’s caught somewhere between a public service announcement about water safety and a porno. I don’t know why my Mum let me to watch it endlessly on primetime when I was between the ages of 7 – 11. (She was convinced I was in constant peril from drowning and made me go to swim class every Saturday even though I hated it. So maybe watching Baywatch was for extra credit?) Anyway, on this particular day in 2003 when I heard the theme song play, my sixteen year old self was filled with a raging nostalgia and I watched it hypnonised from start to finish. The movie remains to this day, the single greatest cinematic experience of my life.
Fast-forward to eight years later and I’m researching a blog post on Tom Selleck. I find out Mr Selleck turned down the role of Mitch Buchannon on Baywatch. My mind wanders, I potter aimlessly around on YouTube at 12.30am. I find Part 1. I lose 3 hours of my life watching it twice. I go to work. I am consumed by the hilarious storyline. If anyone stops at my desk, I tell them the entire plot in excruciating detail. Everyone thinks I like fake boobs too much.
But just because I like you, I am going to take you through the movie in the same level of excruciating detail. By no means is this a substitute for the real thing… It’s only a guide.
A Critical Film Analysis of ‘Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding’ (2003)
Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding (Sometimes called Hawaiian Reunion) comes at an interesting time for the franchise. The show’s setting had moved from California to Hawaii the season prior. This was supposed to breath life (ha! lifeguard humour!) back into the struggling show… but let’s be honest there’s only so many ways you can save someone from drowning. In the finale of Baywatch Hawaii’s first season, Mitch apparantly dies in a boating accident. Cut to the begining of Baywatch Hawaiian Wedding: Mitch is miriculously alive and haunted by terrible dreams rehashing the death of his one time lover, Stephanie Holden. For those of you who didn’t watch season 7 (I imagine that’s all of you), Stephanie died in a boating accident (there’s a new one) during her honeymoon on a boat called “Chance Of A Lifetime” (oh my god the irony). So Mitch wakes suddenly from his nightmare and the viewer is in for a mindfuck and a half because Stephanie (!!!) is there, lying next to Mitch in bed comforting him.
“Wait”, says the ever astute viewer, “Didn’t we just see a flashback of that person dying ?” But then, through masterful plot progression, we discover that Mitch called the demon wearing Stephanie’s face Allison and she is supposedly a completely different person. They talk about how this has been the greatest three months of their lives and then Allison’s all worried that Mitch is only with her because she looks like his long lost love Stephanie and Mitch is all “What?! That’s crazy talk Ste-I mean Allison. I love you. And you know before, when we were in the throes of lovemaking and I called out Stephanie’s name… That never happened. Give me your hand, Stepha…Allison…” Allison’s all… “This really isn’t the time to play pull my finger Mitch” And to the surprise of no-one, Mitch proposes and the viewer feels vaguely uncomfortable as they make out for about 30 seconds too long.
The familiar drum beat starts and we move into the opening credits.
We’re on the beach with two sets of nameless boobs. One set is trying to convince the other to let her have her photoshoot for FHM on the beach… “Wait, did you say FHM” says one. (Yeah, she did, girl, like eight times…) “I love that magazine…” she continues from a pouty hole somewhere above her boobs, “It lets us know what men are fantasising about.” “Exactly” says the other and they both stare into the camera vacantly, pleased because they have nailed that in-program product endorsement so seemlessly.
They are joined by nameless male lifeguard and Hobie, Mitch’s son who in real life has turned out to be the world’s biggest douchebag. (I have created a timeline to show his descent into douchebaggery.)
They talk about bringing Mitch out of retirement to help patrol the beach while the FHM shoot is happening. Everyone is intrigued because Mitch has been so distracted with his new lady friend but NONE of them have met her yet… not even Mitch’s own son… funny that…
Fast foward to the FHM shoot. Apparantly the ‘money shot’ is in the water but the waves are too high. Hilarious montage showing long shots of tsunami-like waves interspersed between shots of models posing on surfboard in completely flat water. No one is buying that, producers. The models start to drown in four feet of water. Mitch and the first set of boobs save the day.
Later, Mitch introduces everyone to Allison and they all seem unconcerned that she’s wearing Stephanie’s face, instead they are more preoccupied with how they can get invited to the wedding. Meanwhile, Allison casually decides that she only wants to get married if it happens on this unihabited, incredibly isolated and remote volcano island (Alarm bells anyone?!) near Oahu, Hawaii.
“Wait a second?!!” says Mitch, “Did you just say Oahu?! Why, that’s the very same place every Baywatch castmember goes when they’re written off the show! IT’S UNCANNY ISN’T IT STE- ERRR ALLISON??!!” Then he goes on and on about Pamela Anderson’s character CJ and how no man can tame her. It’s all pretty sexual but Allison, like a trooper, sits there and takes it all in blankly until the scene fades and suddenly we’re in Oahu watching CJ meditate. While she’s centering her chak-ra, the viewer is treated to a TRULY HILARIOUS AND MAGICAL slow-motion montage of CJ’s innermost thoughts, we see her whitewater rafting, playing saxophone on some rocks, running along a beach where her own boobs nearly give her a black eye and then inexplicably rolling around naked in some red satin sheets while rocking some fierce tranny like lip-liner.
Her reverie is interupted by Lani (Carmen Elektra) who reminds her how busy CJ is now she owns her own pool side grill (YOU MADE IT GIRL!) which causes CJ to start flapping her freakishly lip-lined mouth off about the universe being out of alignment (foreshadowing some kind of jiggly doom). Without any kind of exposition, they both skip off (slow-mo of course) to save a sea turtle and when they get there they run into some Baywatch characters, class of ’92. WHAT A SMALL FUCKING WORLD YOU GUYS.
Another awkward attempt at subtle product placement – “Aren’t these suntan wipes great?!” Elsewhere Summer (Nicole Eggert) and Hobie start a jailbaity affair.
Next thing we know, everyone is converging on Turtle Island, Oahu for Mitch and Smellison’s wedding. The guest list comprises entirely of Mitch’s lifeguarding troupe and no one questions why there are no guests on the bride’s side. Allison probably ate them in order to steal their faces. A heartwarming reunion scene between Mitch and his friends turns sinister as the viewer is made aware that someone is taking secret happy snaps of the characters hugging it out. The smiling photos of each lifeguard are printed and stuck on a cork board. A tiny angry asian man scowls at the photo of Mitch and fires a throwing star directly at his image… Someone didn’t get invited to the wedding and isn’t taking it too well? CRAP MITCH, DID YOU NOT GET ALLISON’S ASIAN DAD’S PERMISSION WHEN YOU ASKED HER TO MARRY YOU??!!
Annoying subplot with Baywatch Hawaii characters. Your attempts to get us to emotional invested in these characters from the new series aren’t working, writers.
Cut to the arrival of Neely (I don’t remember her either) and Caroline Holden (Yasmin Bleath) hellbent on putting a stop to the wedding. Neely is still pining for Mitch after their marriage was annulled when she tricked a drunk Mitch into marrying her on an Alaskan cruise ship or something and has now convinced her friend Caroline that she truly believes (like the rest of us) that a demon has eaten Caroline’s dead sister Stephanie’s face and the marriage is a sham.
While Caroline and Mitch have a heart to heart, (“I lost Stephanie once, I’m not going to lose her again”) Allison and a jealous Neely have a scrag fight over Mitch’s mother’s ring (Some brilliant dialogue writing here: “I know what a VICIOUS SLLLLLLUT you can be” “You’re a filthy pig“) and eventually they plunge hilariously head first down the world’s longest waterslide together, ripping chunks out of eachothers hair along the way.
In the ensuing fray, after Allison’s tries to strangle Neely, Neely steals Allison’s necklace. (Your self-defense mechanism is way off Neely) She asked some Baywatch Hawaii person (Guy Who’s In Every Sci Fi Show) she’s never met before if his brother is still a cop and can run Allison’s prints. Meanwhile, Allison is all fired up and needs to swim it off. From a nearby cliff-face, two burly security types call Sato, our angry asian man-friend from before and tell him the little birdie has left the nest. Our friend Sato is a Japanese Drug Lord Terrorist Whale Hunter who Mitch crossed years before (season 2) while attempting to bring a simultaneous end to the war on drugs, terrorism, whale poaching and AIDs. Scuba suited Sato swims up to Allison in deep water and pulls her under!!! She’s done for! – and oh no, the scene cuts to the beach, where Mitch is waiting patiently for his long distance swimming lady love to return. Then, Allison emerges from the water without a stratch and starts licking Mitch’s face. They head off to get ready for their engagment party hosted by CJ. The viewer feels a sense of foreboding closing in… also a sense of Pamela Anderson’s boobs closing in.
This is due to the fact that in the next scene everyone has donned formal attire for Mitch and Allison’s pre-wedding party except for CJ, who decided that a porno-esque diamonte bikini was occasion appropriate. (I hope you are watching on wide-screen because they cannot be contained in four by three.) Everyone is in high spirits and Allison tells Neely that she wants her to come to the UNINHABITED AND INCREDIBLY ISOLATED Volcano Island tomorrow to attend her and Mitch’s wedding. Either someone just found Jesus or shit is about to go down. I am getting goosebumps all down my arms.
The next day everyone is relaxing on the charter boat taking them over to the UNINHABITED AND INCREDIBLY ISOLATED Volcano Island. “NOW WAIT JUST A SECOND”, says the viewer, “This new character Captain Luka looks remarkably like one of those burly security types working for Sato. Can’t you scrounge up enough extras, Baywatch producer??! Oh wait…”
Meanwhile, Sato is down in the belly of the boat organising his hench men, unpacking the VIDEO equipment and reminicing about how he blames Mitch for ruining his life way back in the 90’s. (Despite the fact that Sato was breaking the law in the first place by dealing drugs, engaging in terrorist activity, spreading the AIDs virus and violating the international moratorium on commerical whaling… minor detail… )
The boat arrives at Haiku Island and everyone, safe and secure in the thought that this isn’t one of those weddings where everyone need fear for their life because the excursion has been orchestrated by a homocidal martial arts expert, decides to break into smaller more intimate groups of two.
Meanwhile back at CJ’s Bar and Grill, CJ, conscious of how busy she is now that she’s running her own pool-side bar, is back meditating. Excellent priorities you got there, Ceej! Random Hawaiian Boobs and Guy Who’s Now In Every Sci-Fi Show ask her if she’s received the expected check in phone call from Haiku island – “No, but somethings definately wrong there, I can feel it, I can SENSE it,” CJ intones. (Really? And the lack of an expected phone call didn’t tip you off at all??)
Back at the island, Class of ’92 (Cort) and Carmen Elektra pair off and have their sexytimes under a sacred waterfall until they are interupted by Sato’s burly henchmen swimming menacingly over. One of the actors playing a henchman can barely doggy paddle and looks really out of breath. I assume he’s tired due the fact that this is 30th take because Carmen Elektra keeps falling out of her top and they have to keep the nipple shots to a minimum for this to go to air at 1 o’clock in the afternoon. There’s a poorly choreographed struggle and the henchmen eventually capture Cort and Carmen Elektra, shackling them and forcing them to tread water in a hot volcanic cove (where the tide is rising). Perched on a rock, framing the scene is a camera on a tripod, filming the whole thing. (MOVIE WITHIN A MOVIE, HOW POST-MODERN)
Other Forgotten Old Castmember (Class of 92, Eddy) and Yasmin Bleath are trekking to a more secluded beach and for some unexplained reason Yasmin suddenly has a massive lisp. The henchmen don’t take to kindly to unexplained spontaneous speech impediments so they kidnap these guys too. The henchmen scuba suit up and take them deep underwater, handcuffing them both inside some weird half submerged submarine cell. The henchmen unscrews some bolts and the cell starts to fill slowly with water. Wave to the camera filming your slow demise guys!
Meanwhile Summer (Nicole Eggert) and her douchebaggity piece of jailbait Hobie are doing the nasty on the sand of a secluded beach. Sato and two of his backup dancers arrive to peg a fishing net over the two lovers so they drown in the rising tide … (the writers are clearly running out of simultaneous drowning scenarios) “This won’t work Sato, my Dad will find us,” says an impassioned Hobie. “I’m counting on it,” retorts Sato, “Its just a question whether he find you alive or not” OHH BURN! Hobie questions Sato’s insatiable desire for revenge and apparantly when Mitch turned him in to the authorities in 1992 for being a Japanese Drug Lord Terrorist Whale Hunter, Sato lost custody of his son. This meant his son was never initiated into the family business (running a drug cartel to fund terrorist activities in order to bring an end to the whale species). To punish Mitch, Sato is filming the watery death of his son and closest friends. Win for prison rehabilitation programs?
Meanwhile back at the resort, Guy Who’s Now In Every Sci-Fi Show finally hears back from his detective brother who was running Allison’s fingy prints. Turns out Allison is actually someone called Judy Raydon who served time for assault and forgery and then had plastic surgery to look like Stephanie Holden in order to seduce Mitch. OF COURSE, PLASTIC SURGERY TO LOOK EXACTLY LIKE MITCH’S DEAD EX-LOVER!? And all that in a fingerprint. IT’S SO SIMPLE YET OH SO DASTEDLY. (Just in case, the viewer doesn’t understand, they repeat this information at least 5 times in the next 2 minutes) He calls Neely and tells her over sateillite phone which immediately goes dead after the call. Neely finds Mitch going over his wedding vows on the beach and tries to explain that Allison is just barren Octomom, but he won’t hear of it. She pleads with him and tells him she knows Allison has a plastic face cause she could feel the scars behind her ears. Some annoying Baywatch Hawaii characters (as yet unkidnapped) find Neely and Mitch having angry words on the sand. “Why Mitch, what are you doing here? We just saw Allison and some guy we thought was you smooching near the Banyans Trees…” Mitch, with a look that is part fear and part contipation, journeys into the banyan forest to find a guilty looking Allison. He makes a show of adjusting her floral garland but really is just copping a feel behind her scarry ears. He confronts her and tries to make sense of why she has a plastic face. She snaps hilariously from sweetly pleading her innocence to steely eyed psychosis: “You thought our meeting was some grand karmic intervention so you could recapture the lost love of your life.” “Why would you do that?!” says Mitch, his heart breaking. “You’ll have to ask my partner” replies Stephanie with chilling malice. AND THEN SATO, JUMPS ON TOP OF MITCH FROM ABOVE!!!! “IT’S ME BEACH BOY!” (Excellent catch-phrase Sato, I think you should trademark it…)
They fight unconvincingly and Sato ties Mitch up to show him the live video feed of his friends drowning. Mitch is all “take meeee, torture meeee” Oh simple Mitch, you don’t get it do you? Well, Sato is about to enlighten you. “This is what I want to do to you, I want you to live with the torment that the ones you loved died because of you, because of what you did to me” Never one to shy away from a lifesaving challenge, Mitch reminds Sato, “None of this works unless you give me a chance to save them!” Sato thinks about it for all of one second and decides, EVER SO WISELY, that there’s no way Mitch’s lifeguarding prowess can save all his friends from this particular pickle and LETS HIM GO. Mitch immediately springs into action.
There is a dramatic and improbable simultaneous triple rescue, with a hilarious soundtrack that truly needs to be watched to be believed (Part 9). Sato and Mitch do final battle, which Mitch eventually “takes to the water” so he’ll have the advantage and sees to it that Sato is eaten by a boat propeller.
The movie ends with a completely jarring and light-hearted narration by Mitch, “We came to Hawaii for a wedding and CJ wasn’t about to let us go home without one…” Everyone has paired off and has blissfully forgotten that they all nearly died at the hands of a violent and vengeful psychopath.
I ASK YOU WORLD, WHERE IS THEIR GOLDEN GLOBE???
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