'Baywatch' and 'Pirates' fall flat; 'The Lovers' delivers Oscar-worthy performances

Zac Efron, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Alexandra Daddario in the movie "Baywatch"


Score: A

Rated R -- 94 minutes

"Tracy Letts delivers an Oscar-worthy 'Best Actor of the Year' performance"

You say to yourself, "Who is that actor? I know that I have seen him before.” Indeed, you have. He is a playwright, screenwriter, and actor.

In 2008, he received the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, for his play AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY. He also wrote the screenplay for the movie.

In 2013-2014, he played United States Senator Andrew Lockhart on Season 3 of Showtime's HOMELAND. And in Season 4, he became the CIA Director.

In 2013, he won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play in the Broadway revival of WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF.

Tracy Letts and Debra Winger give extraordinary performances. Debra Winger could have been one of America's greatest actresses before walking away from Hollywood. Her iconic roles included the Oscar-winning TERMS OF ENDEARMENT, as well as AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN and URBAN COWBOY. Now, we should add THE LOVERS.

THE LOVERS is an extremely intelligent adult film. Rarely is the theme of mature relationships portrayed with such powerful realism. And yet, thanks to Letts’ and Winger’s performances, so very subtle. Notice the body language. The sighs and the breathing. Couples are cheating on each other. I purposely use the word "subtle" because more often than not, the communication up on the screen is unspoken.

Toward the end of the film, Winger comes to terms with the painful situation as a long-married couple, acknowledging that despite all that has happened, "we are still good people.”

Credit film director Azazel Jacobs for this brilliant film. And credit the supporting cast that includes Melora Walters, Aidan Gillen, Tyler Rose, and Jessica Sula. Mr. Gillen may be familiar to you for his work in GAME OF THRONES.

As I left the theater I began to reflect on my own life. I saw my father up on the screen because he cheated on my mother. I wonder why so many couples stay together? Why are so many couples afraid to leave and make a change? And why do so many couples lie and cheat?

There are so many moments in this film that are unforgettable. Emotional. Raw. Passionate. Please do not miss this charming, somewhat funny, and very special film. One of the best.


Score: C

Rated R -- 116 minutes

"Not even Dwayne Johnson can save Baywatch from drowning"

All of the pre-marketing – and there was lots of it – can't save BAYWATCH. Who hasn't seen gorgeous Kelly Rohrbach, Alexandra Daddario, Ilfenesh Hadera, Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron and Jon Bass running on the beach?

They are jogging toward the camera, and it is a major turn on for both the men and the women! Who wouldn't want to be saved by any one of them with their beautiful figures and sexy bodies? (Okay, maybe not Jon Bass – although he is pretty terrific in this film.)

Unfortunately, the mediocre crop of spring movies continues to disappoint. Despite the breasts, the pecs, a penis, and a terrific soundtrack – what should have been a pretty good comedy quickly deteriorates into a silly – if not stupid – rude and crude farce. I am surprised that director Seth Gordon seemed to not keep control of the story, while screenwriters Damian Shannon and Mark Swift allowed the movie to lose focus.

With a stronger screenplay, Dwayne Johnson could certainly have carried this film on his shoulder. He is a wonderful movie star. You would have thought that working alongside Mr. Efron would have strengthened this "buddy" film. That was another disappointment. Being paired with Zac Efron didn't seem to work. There wasn't the chemistry that one would have expected. Toward the last third of the movie, the script takes an unexpected turn. From that point on, the plot can only be described as ridiculous.

Baywatch debuted on NBC in 1989. It only lasted one season, ranking 74th out of 111 shows. The three stars included David Hasselhoff, Erika Eleniak, and Parker Stevenson. The true story of how this canceled failure became a giant syndicated success would have made a much stronger motion picture, and frankly, still could.

Hasselhoff was joined by Pamela Anderson and the rest is television history. One of the potential stars of this reboot might surprise you. Leonardo DiCaprio was then a young teenager. Hasselhoff wanted a "younger" son, so instead of selecting Leo, the role went to 10-year-old Jeremy Jackson.

Baywatch also survived a scandal when a sex tape with Anderson and her husband Tommy Lee went viral. That did not hurt the ratings. At one time, Baywatch was one of the most popular shows in the history of television.

In 2004, the movie rights went to DreamWorks and later transferred to Paramount. The project finally got approved in 2014 with Dwayne Johnson being cast.

There are too many blockbusters about to be released as we move into summer and I suspect that this Baywatch movie will not be the hit that it should have been. The critics mostly agree with my review. Rotten Tomatoes gives one of the lowest scores of the year – a paltry 19-percent. That means 80-percent of the critics give the R-rated Baywatch a thumbs down. But hey, I am only a critic. Would you believe that the producers are already talking about a sequel!


Score: C

Rated PG-13 -- 129 minutes

"The only pirates worth watching are in Pittsburgh (and they are in fifth place in the central division)"

Disney had five years to develop the fifth chapter of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN. One would have thought that co-directors Espen Sandberg and Joachim Ronning had sufficient time to develop a good movie. I tried to like this film, I really did. But in the end, it left me cold and confused.

SPOILER ALERT: For those of you who are loyal fans, stay for all of the credits at the end of the movie. There is one last scene. Very short. But you will love it!

There is very little to love about this sequel. Since THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL in 2003, each of the sequels seem to be less engaging and less satisfying. Now, 14 years and four films later – not to mention nearly $4 billion later – the Pirates franchise today is less fun, less clever, and less engaging. In the case of DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES – it is DOA.

Johnny Depp, suffering from so many off-screen personal problems and issues, will always be Captain Jack Sparrow. I am not sure if it is him or us who have grown tired of the character. Sadly, the reputation of this masterful actor is not the same today.

Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Kevin McNally, Stephen Graham, and Martin Klebba all appear in this film. I think that Javier Bardem, Golshifteh Farahani, and Geoffrey Rush steal the film from Mr. Depp.

The "C" rating is earned because, well, because it still is PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN. There will obviously be loyal fans who will walk out of the theater loving the film. Some of the loose ends are tied up. I have to acknowledge that.

Another SPOILER ALERT: Look fast and note the pirate Uncle Jack. Yes, it is really Paul McCartney.


The month of June ushers in a potential summer of '17 box office champions with the Warner Bros. and DC film, WONDER WOMAN, Pixar's CARS 3, and Universal's reboot of THE MUMMY starring Tom Cruise.

Wonder Woman, starring "FAST AND FURIOUS" Gal Gadot - a former Israeli soldier, had a featured role in BATMAN V SUPERMAN last year. The film also stars Chris Pine in this World War I drama. Full review coming next week.

Looking ahead to what's coming this summer? Bob Fisher has the blockbuster box office guide to this summer's movie season!