Box Office Breakthroughs
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Box Office Breakthroughs
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Box Office Breakthroughs
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‘Baywatch’ is charmingly innocent, but did we need this?

Lots of things happened in the year 1989. The Berlin Wall finally came down. I was born. A bevy of beautiful lifeguards ran in slow motion on a beach, sparking a global cultural phenomenon that lasted long after the sun set over the balmy Los Angeles waters.

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So it’s safe to say I was too young to fully grasp the impact those iconic red bathing suits had on American culture in real-time. But I’m more than aware now. I’ve done my due diligence, thanks to YouTube and “Borat.”

I’ve also sat through various other iconic TV shows-turned-films I wasn’t old enough to watch the first time around, including: “The A-Team,” “21 and 22 Jump Streets,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Dukes of Hazzard,” “The Brady Bunch,” ...even “Starsky & Hutch.” So I get it. “Baywatch” is a thing for people.

And maybe it’s the fact that I settled in to my seat at the movie theater on an absolutely abysmal, rainy New York day, but I was ready to be whisked away to the beaches of Miami for two hours of silly, stupid fun.

Still...I had two questions going into this film. “Did we need this?” and, similarly, “did we ask for this?”

Hollywood capitalizing on franchises from the past for reunions, reboots, and revivals is nothing new, but for every triumph (see: Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” universe), there’s a tragedy (again: “Starsky & Hutch”). But it makes sense why studios bank on people seeing shiny new versions of favorites from their youth, especially when it comes to the formative years of so many young, straight American men in the ‘90s.

My expectations for “Baywatch” were pretty low going in - admittedly, I find leads Zac Efron and Dwayne Johnson irrefutably charming, but I knew the film wasn’t going to be exceedingly funny, raunchy, or smart.

And guess what? It wasn’t. It relied heavily on two recurring themes: dirty jokes, and Zac Efron pretty-boy jokes. Funny, perhaps, once or twice. Then it was just a test of my patience.

Sure, there was a plot, involving drug smuggling on a boat and the all-important task of recruiting new lifeguards to the beaches of Emerald Bay. But, much like its TV predecessor, it was hard to care about the actual plot.

It was mostly about those skimpy swimsuits, of which the movie version definitely delivered. But the thing is, for all the boner and boob jokes, “Baywatch” was charmingly innocent. And it was actually pretty...sweet. The cast was undeniably likeable, even the villain, played flawlessly by Priyanka Chopra. They did the best with what they were given, which should be taken as a compliment, I suppose.

But to answer one of my own questions: did we need this? No, we definitely did not. But we got it, and it’s this week’s dose of Hollywood nostalgia. “Baywatch” will never fully encapsulate the cultural impact the original show had, but I don’t think it was particularly trying to.

The storyline, humor, and characters were all simple, for sure, but it hearkened back to a time where “Baywatch” ruled the airwaves, porn was pay-per-view, and men hid their magazines under their beds. But the world is a different place these days.

To answer my second question: did we ask for this? Well, I suppose we’ll see, when the box-office numbers roll in. But I have a hard time imagining people running to the theaters to grab their seats. Perhaps they’ll stick to a slow-motion beach run. Life rafts not included.

‘Baywatch’ is charmingly innocent, but did we need this?

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures/Frank Masi

Here's Why 'Beauty and the Beast' Will Smash Box Office Records

Here's Why 'Beauty and the Beast' Will Smash Box Office Records
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It’s a tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme...stop me if you’ve heard this before.

It’s no secret that Disney’s live-action remake of the 1991 classic “Beauty and the Beast” will undoubtedly make major bank at the box office. But I think the highly-anticipated blockbuster is poised to shatter box office records — and here’s why.

From a technical standpoint, the release of this movie comes sandwiched between two other major spring releases, “Kong: Skull Island” and “Power Rangers,” two reboots of already beloved franchises, bringing in a key nostalgia factor for adult moviegoers (especially in the case of “Power Rangers,” thanks to ‘90s kids who grew up on the original teenage superheroes). Both are big-budget, flashy, larger-than-life film experiences —just like BATB will be.

But it’s this same nostalgia factor that will make BATB a hit, despite a release directly in the middle of those other blockbuster films. The original came out 26 years ago, and Disney knows exactly the sweet spot to hit viewers who are old enough to remember seeing the original on the big screen and kids young enough to remember watching it on VHS tape. They’ll take their kids and grandkids, and that’s exactly the point.

There’s also a hype behind seeing an animated film from 1991 remade to a live-action film using 2017 technology. That master staircase and royal banquet hall will come alive in a way the cartoon simply couldn’t, and the movie’s technological upgrades will only enhance the viewing experience.

Disney knows people want to see modern, live-action versions of their favorite childhood classics. That’s why they’re simultaneously working on reboots to “Mary Poppins” and “The Lion King.” People enjoy watching things they know they love already. It’s why you’ll stop and watch “Friends” reruns every single night. It’s comfort food for the soul.

With “Beauty and the Beast,” we know the characters, we know the story. Yes, Disney has smartly adapted the tale as old as time to hit 2017 audiences right where they need it most (Belle’s a feminist! Disney’s first interracial kiss! LeFou is Disney’s first openly gay character!), hopefully paving the way for more inclusivity in future big-budget films. But the overall story remains the same. We know exactly what we’re getting here.

“Beauty and the Beast” will transport audiences into an enchanted, gilded, fantasy land, and that’s exactly why it will be an incredible success. The political climate right now is unnerving. There’s no shortage of unrest and turmoil, and people have always turned to movies, and the arts in general, for a brief respite from the world’s problems. The timing is impeccable. Couldn’t we all benefit from a couple hours of singing candlesticks and dancing teacups? Be our guest.

Here's Why 'Beauty and the Beast' Will Smash Box Office Records

Photo credit: Disney

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