Film Review: “Baywatch”

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron and Alexandra Daddario
Directed by: Seth Gordon
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hr 56 mins

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Before I begin I want to tell you a story. I’ve only seen one episode of the “Baywatch” television show. It was at my friend Marty Kircher’s house and I couldn’t believe how someone of his age (late 30’s) could find the show interesting. The part I remember most was a scene with David Hasselhoff climbing on board a boat which had a man tied up in the middle of it. “What the hell is he doing,” I asked, “he’s a damn LIFEGUARD!” As if on cue, the Hoff looks into the camera and says, “I haven’t seen this much C-4 since my time in the Navy Seals.” Marty turns to me and says, “See! He was a NAVY SEAL!” Thankfully the makers of the new “Baywatch” film don’t take their movie as seriously as Marty would.

Mitch Buchannon (Johnson) is the main man on the beach. With summer starting it’s time for Mitch and his fellow lifeguards to pick three young wannabes to learn the ropes. He is surprised when former Olympic swimmer Matt Brody (Efron) shows up and announces he’s now a “part of the team.” Stuck with Matt, Mitch also chooses Summer Quinn (Daddario) and Ronnie Greenbaum (Jon Bass) to complete his trio of newbies. Summer seems to have the skills necessary to save lives. Ronnie…well, Ronnie has heart! And that’s all you need to be a part of “Baywatch!”

Consistently funny with a few slow spots, “Baywatch” thankfully follows the formula that other television-shows-to-movies like “21 Jump Street” have in that it doesn’t take itself TOO seriously. Leading this charge is Johnson, who seems to want to let us know that it’s OK to laugh at things we find funny. And Johnson has fun as well, making fun of the new guard. Brody, who is surely inspired by American Olympian Ryan Locte, has rubbed Mitch wrong and Mitch confirms this by calling Brody pretty much everything BUT his name. One Direction. Bieber. High School Musical. Brody answers to all three and more. Completing the team are Kelly Rohrbach as C.J. and Ilfenish Hadera as Stephanie. Together they must investigate the recent growing of a new drug kingpin without attracting the wrath of the local police, who look upon the lifesaving gang with spite.

Both Johnson and Efron are well cast. I don’t know why but every time Johnson came on screen I began thinking about his character, Maui, from “Moana.” Efron, who reportedly exercised himself down to 5% body fat, plays up the “swimming Bad Boy” character for laughs, though as the film progresses you do begin to feel a little affinity for him. The supporting cast is also funny but I would be remiss if I didn’t give a special shout out to Jon Bass, who steals the film as Ronnie. And if you fans of the television series keep your eyes peeled, you may spot a familiar face or two.

All in all, a fun film you should wait 15 minutes after eating to see!

MediaMikes 2017 Summer Movie Preview

Summertime, summertime, sum, sum, summertime. Yes indeed, time for school to end and the non-stop days of fun to begin. Unless you have a full time job, like all of us at MediaMikes do. Then it’s just time to find a few hours a week to watch something good. And there appears to be plenty of good for everyone from now until school starts again. “Summer” has gotten off to a big start, with “Fate of the Furious” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2” already kicking serious box office ass. But not to worry, there are plenty more movies to see.

Once again, some synopsis information courtesy of our friends at the Internet Movie Data Base and, please remember, opening dates are subject to change at the whim of the studios.

MAY 26

“Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”

Starring: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and, I swear to God, Paul McCartney
Directed by: Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg
Synopsis: Captain Jack Sparrow is back and this time he’s searching for the trident of Poseidon. Looks much better then the last installment. I interviewed the directors a couple years ago and they seemed to have an enthusiasm for the project that had been lost.


Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron and Alexandra Daddario
Directed by: Seth Gordon
Synopsis: Lifeguard Mitch Buchanan and his team uncover a criminal plot that threatens the future of the Bay. Go for Zac Efron’s abs, stay for, I hope I hope, a sweet David Hasselhoff cameo.

“War Machine”

Starring: Brad Pitt, Ben Kingsley and Anthony Michael Hall
Directed by: David Michod
Synopsis: A no-holds-barred look at the career of US Army General Glen McMahon. Ooo-rah!

“Berlin Syndrome”

Starring: Teresa Palmer and Max Riemelt
Directed by: Cate Shortland
Synopsis: A passionate holiday romance leads to an obsessive relationship when an Australian photojournalist wakes one morning in a Berlin apartment and is unable to leave. I’ve been to Berlin. The apartments were THAT amazing.


“Wonder Woman”

Starring: Gal Gadot, Robin Wright and Chris Pine
Directed by: Patty Jenkins
Synopsis: The best part of “Batman vs Superman” gets her own origin film. Fingers crossed for a Lynda Carter cameo.


“The Mummy”

Starring: Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe and Courtney B. Vance
Directed by: Alex Kurtzman
Synopsis: An ancient princess is awakened from her crypt beneath the desert, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia, and terrors that defy human comprehension. This is not Brendan Fraser’s father’s Mummy!

“Megan Leavey”

Starring: Kate Mara, Tom Felton and Will Patton
Directed by: Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Synopsis: Based on the true-life story of a young marine corporal whose unique discipline and bond with her military combat dog saved many lives during their deployment in Iraq. Love dog movies. As opposed to movies that ARE dogs.

“It Comes at Night”

Starring: Riley Keough and Joel Edgerton
Directed by: Trey Edward Shults
Synopsis: Secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, a man has established a tenuous domestic order with his wife and son, but this will soon be put to the test when a desperate young family arrives seeking refuge. Keough’s grandfather passed away 40 years ago. You may have heard of him: Elvis Presley.


“Cars 3”

Starring the voices of: Owen Wilson, Armie Hammer and Larry the Cable Guy
Directed by: Brian Fee
Synposis: Lightning McQueen sets out to prove to a new generation of racers that he’s still the best race car in the world. And that “Cars 2” was just a bad dream.

“The Book of Henry”

Starring: Naomi Watts and Jacob Tremblay
Directed by: Colin Trevorrow
Synopsis: A single mom raises a child genius. Tremblay was the best thing about “Room.” Maybe in his next film he can actually have a father.


“Transformers: The Last Knight”

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Gemma Chan and Anthony Hopkins
Directed by: Michael Bay
Synopsis: Seriously? You actually care about the PLOT of this movie? Fine. Humans and Transformers are at war, Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving our future lies buried in the secrets of the past, in the hidden history of Transformers on Earth.

“The Big Sick”

Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan and Holly Hunter
Directed by: Michael Showalter
Synopsis: A couple deals with their cultural differences as their relationship grows. Just like real life.

“The Bad Batch”

Starring: Suki Waterhouse, Jason Mamoa and Jm Carrey
Directed by: Ann Lily Amirpour
Synopsis: A dystopian love story in a Texas wasteland, set in a community of cannibals. I’m just getting into “Breaking Bad.” I thought this had something to do with blue meth.


“Baby Driver”

Starring: Ansel Elgort, Lily James and Kevin Spacey
Directed by: Edgar Wright
Synopsis: After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail. You know who has never failed? Edgar Wright.


“Despicable Me 3”

Starring the voices of: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig and Trey Parker
Directed by: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin and Eric Guillon
Synopsis: Balthazar Bratt, a child star from the 1980s, hatches a scheme for world domination. Oh, and the Minions.

“The Beguiled”

Starring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst
Directed by: Sofia Coppola
Synopsis: At a girls’ school in Virginia during the Civil War, where the young women have been sheltered from the outside world, a wounded Union soldier is taken in. This is a remake of the 1971 Clint Eastwood/Geraldine Page film.

“The House”

Starring: Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler and Ryan Simpkins
Directed by: Andrew J. Cohen
Synopsis: A dad convinces his friends to start an illegal casino in his basement after he and his wife spend their daughter’s college fund. Bet with your head, not over it!


“Spider-Man: Homecoming”

Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton and more than one Avenger
Directed by: Jon Watts
Synopsis: Following the events of “Captain America: Civil War,” Peter Parker attempts to balance his life in high school with his career as the web-slinging superhero Spider-Man. The few minutes he was featured in the last “Captain America” film showed Holland to be perfectly cast as the young web-master.

“A Ghost Story”

Starring: Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara
Directed by: David Lowery
Synopsis: In this singular exploration of legacy, love, loss, and the enormity of existence, a recently deceased, white-sheeted ghost returns to his suburban home to try and reconnect with his bereft wife. Is that an Oscar under your sheet or are you just glad to see me?


“War for the Planet of the Apes”

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn and Andy Serkis
Directed by: Matt Reeves
Synopsis: After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind.



Starring: Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and Tom Hardy
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Synopsis: Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire, Canada, and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.

“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”

Starring: Dane DeHaan, Clive Owen and John Goodman
Directed by: Luc Besson
Synopsis: A dark force threatens Alpha, a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets. Special operatives Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.


“Atomic Blonde”

Starring: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy and, once again, John Goodman
Directed by: David Leitch
Synopsis: An undercover MI6 agent is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents. Director Leitch is also helming the second “Deadpool” film.


“The Dark Tower”

Starring: Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey and Jackie Earle Haley
Directed by: Nikolaj Arcel
Synopsis: The Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, roams an Old West-like landscape where “the world has moved on” in pursuit of The Man In Black. He’s also searching for the fabled Dark Tower, in the hopes that reaching it will preserve his dying world. Good thing I’m going to read this later…until just now I thought Ron Howard was directing.

“Wind River”

Starring: Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen and Graham Greene
Directed by: Taylor Sheridan
Synopsis: An FBI agent teams with the town’s veteran game tracker to investigate a murder that occurred on a Native American reservation. Director Sheridan wrote both 2015’s “Sicario” and last year’s Best Picture nominee, “Hell or High Water.”

“Ingrid Goes West”

Starring: Aubrey Plaza, O’Shea Jackson Jr and, once again, Elizabeth Olsen
Directed by: Matt Spicer
Synopsis: Ingrid Thorburn, a mentally disturbed young woman, becomes obsessed with Taylor Sloane, a social-media star who appears to have the perfect life.


Starring: John Krasinski, John Boyega and Anthony Mackie
Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow
Synopsis: A police raid in Detroit in 1967 results in one of the largest citizen uprisings in the United States’ history. Another team up of Oscar winning writer Mark Boal and Academy Award winning director Bigelow.


“Logan Lucky”

Starring: Daniel Craig, Channing Tatum and Adam Driver
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Synopsis: Two brothers attempt to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race in North Carolina. And then run moonshine?

Erika Eleniak reflects on “Baywatch” and working with Jim Varney

When your first acting job is in one of the most popular movies ever made where do you go from there? For Erika Eleniak, you go straight to the top. At age 10 she appeared alongside Henry Thomas in Steven Spielberg’s classic “E.T.” As the girl Thomas’ character, Elliot, kisses in the classroom, Eleniak certainly made an impression on young film fans. As she got older she found work on television, often as the prospective love interest of such actors as Rick Schroeder on “Silver Spoons,” Scott Baio on “Charles in Charge” and John Stamos on “Full House.” In 1989 she began a two-plus season run as lifeguard Shauni McClain on the popular television series “Baywatch!” Three years later she broke out on the big screen as Playboy playmate Jordan Tate in the Steven Segal action hit “Under Siege.”

In the two decades since she has built a strong resume’ of work both on television (“Brooklyn South,” “Desperate Housewives”) and film (“The Beverly Hillbillies,” “Chasers”). Now the proud mother of a daughter, Ms. Eleniak continues to work steadily, currently adding the word “Author” to her resume. While appearing at the Con X KC convention she took time out to talk with Media Mikes.

Mike Smith: Your first screen role put you in one of the most beloved films of all time, “E.T.” Were you made aware of what the film was about? Did you get to read the entire script or just the pages for your scene?
Erika Eleniak: No. It was very secret. The whole thing from top to bottom was kept under wraps. We were given a different name – I was told the film was called “A Boys Life.” I was pretty much told it was about a boy and an alien. Nothing beyond that. There was no script really for me – we just did our thing. And that was it. There was no hanging out around the set.

MS: Did you shoot any additional scenes that weren’t used?
EE: Not any extra scenes but I do believe I had a line or two when Henry Thomas is trying to free the frogs in class. We were lab partners and I was doing the standard “what are you doing?” In fact, it may have been as simple AS “what are you doing, Elliot? Stop it. You’re going to get in trouble.” I’m pretty sure I had a line that definitely got cut.

MS: You left “Baywatch” at the beginning of season three. Were you surprised at the popularity of the show, especially around the world?
EE: Yes and no. I think everyone was in some way. When you think about the subject matter being shown to other parts of the world…shiny California while other parts of the world are freezing…that part is definitely not surprising as to why the show got such a warm welcome (laughs)…excuse the pun! But how can you ever foresee the success of a show before it happens? You really can’t. The way it all happened…going from being on NBC, which was a really conservative network, to syndication where you could do a lot more with necklines plunging…more eye candy. More of what it eventually became. I think it certainly evolved into itself. It was a work in progress that started out as something much different then where it ended up for sure. I would say that everyone was most happily surprised.

MS: I was very fortunate to have known Jim Varney. Do you have any special memories of working with him on “The Beverly Hillbillies?”
EE: I do! Whenever people ask me about Jim Varney I always have to say that he was one of the most soft-spoken and sweet gentlemen. It was such a loss for him to leave us as early as he did. The funny thing that I loved about Jim was that you could pick any topic on this planet…anything off the wall, and he could talk to you for 20 minutes about it. He was a walking encyclopedia. He was just so smart and it was baffling how much information he had about the most random things. He was incredible that way. Just fascinating. And one of my favorite memories was he and I sitting in the makeup trailer before work. We were just chatting. It was early in the morning and I remember just talking about how I had started a hope chest. I had always wanted children so I started a baby clothes collection and I mentioned that I had started to collect quotes. We were just talking. And about a year after the film wrapped I got this huge box in the mail. Jim had remembered our conversation…I barely did. As I said, it was just idle chatter…”how’s the weather,” that kind of thing. And Jim had sent me two handmade quilts. One was for a baby to put in my hope chest and one was for my quilt collection. He had asked a lady from his little home town in Tennessee to make these things by hand for me and send them to me. I was blown away. My God, that was just so thoughtful…I don’t have enough time in this conversation to tell you what a sweet man he was. And that quilt is still on my little girl’s bed in her bedroom.

MS: You’ve done a lot of work in both television and film. Do you have a preference?
EE: No. Just whatever is quality…whatever is a great role. I suppose now, because I have a six year old daughter, scheduling becomes so much more important. I have a child in school so whatever comes along scheduling is always the first thing I try to figure out. Sometimes the shorter the shoot the more complicated things can become. Is it a matter of getting someone to take her back and forth or if it’s a little bit longer do I pull her out of school, take her on set with me and do independent study with her? As for the medium, there’s no preference as long as it’s an amazing role. But where it does become more preferential is in the scheduling. Right now I have a couple of movies coming out. One was really just a cameo and it was a very short and sweet shoot. The other one was a much longer film shoot so she stayed on set with me with a nanny and did her school work there. It’s worked out really well so far. I love television and I love doing films. I will always love doing films. As long as it’s a great, interesting role I have no preference.

MS: Are you working on anything now?
EE: I just finished two films. One is called “Meant to Be” and I believe they’re going to release it in December. The film stars Della Reese and Michael Gross and Dean Cain and it’s a really very cool story with a great twist that was so appealing when I read the script. I also have a cameo in a Lifetime Channel movie called “Holiday Spin.” I love Lifetime. I really love the stories they tell. They tend to focus on relationships between people. Ralph Maccio is in it, though unfortunately I didn’t get to work with him. And I’m also in the middle of having a children’s book published. We’re in the artwork stage right now. It’s certainly a learning experience for me because I’m totally new to that world. There are layers and layers and layers to go through in the process and we’re just getting to the part of getting the artwork accomplished between myself and the illustrator and the publisher. So I’ve got a few things in the pot!