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Baywatch – Reboot the Tone too!


An excerpt from my script review for Baywatch which will be available 05/30/17:

4.) Dialogue and Description

This is the gem of the discussion.

Where the TV series was more drama, despite some of the wacky plot lines, the movie takes NONE of it seriously.

That’s fantastic, because when you think about it, they’re lifeguards, not police officers, and wouldn’t handle most of the show’s dilemmas.

And this is established right from the get go.

Page 2:

A tanned,
strapping package of ‘Fuck Yeah!’ — rising out of the ocean
like Godzilla — covered by only a pair of red swim trunks
with a ‘BAYWATCH’ emblem. This is


Fun and playful. I know this isn’t going to be a drama, but am still going to be entertained.

By page 4, during Mitch’s morning run, we establish two things. First, he’s a caring, respected member of the community. Second, the interactions he has with people are funny. Mitch’s job may be saving lives, but in the opening sequence of the film he’s more The Rock than The Hoff.

Page 14:

Stephanie holds up sunblock, with a smile that’s losing

Not necessarily funny, so much as an EXCELLENT visual. A “smile that’s losing patience” displays Stephanie’s professional courtesy, an intricate part of her character.

Then the constant insulting nicknames Mitch gives Brody.

Page 18:

Are you being serious right now?

Dead serious, Splash Zone.

Because Brody was a lifeguard at a water park! Ha, and they play out throughout the script!

And right here, where the original premise of the TV show is thrown in our face as a joke…

Page 41:

Oh come on, Sergeant. Don’t give me
any of that jurisdiction crap.

Mitch, for the last time: you do
not HAVE a jurisdiction. You are
not a police officer. You’re not
detectives. You are lifeguards.
Your job is to make sure white
people are doing okay at swimming.

This happened on my beach.

Yes, and apparently, because you
weren’t doing your job good enough,
some tourist is dead. So now, this
is a matter for the police. You see
the difference?

Ellerbee taps his badge with his baton, then taps the patches
on their swimsuits — Badge, patch:

Badge, on a uniform. Patch, on a
swimsuit. Badge on a uniform, patch
on a swimsuit…
Behind them, an ambulance pulls up.

Just make sure you keep Baywatch HQ
looped in on the investigation.

HQ? You mean where you guys eat
lunch? You know, I would love to,
Mitch? But the Police Department
has a strict policy: No Shoes, No
Shirt, No Service.

Is Ellerbee a dick about it? Sure, but when you think about it, he’s absolutely correct, and I LOVE that the movie deals with this notion in such a subtly interesting way!

Page 43:

I mean, we’re lifeguards, right? We
help people not get sunburned, and
yes, very occasionally make sure
people don’t drown, but beyond that
— what you’re talking about sounds
like an albeit very entertaining,
but far-fetched TV show!
Mitch turns on him, almost fierce —

That’s what you think, huh? So tell
me. What are you gonna do if
there’s a giant squid in the cove??

I’ll call animal control.

Sand-grifters running a con on the

Sand-grifters? Sand-grifters?!

How about diamond smugglers moving
the rocks in surfboards?!

What?! I’d call the cops.

Okay, so the squid was actually a giant octopus, but those were REAL PLOTS from the series! I mean, just fantastic!!!

Page 47:

SPLOOSH! Perfect dive into the water
just in front of the flames!


Mitch doing a powerful breast-stroke, churning the sea as all
above him, we see the surface of the water is covered in
glowing fire! Oh yeah, this is going in the trailer.

More humorous and intriguing choices for description. Do “money shot” and referencing a scene going in the trailer work for other genres? No, but for this type of action comedy, it’s perfect!

(You can see The Rock and Zac Effron doing awesome dives into the water.)

Page 83:

The girl’s gonna be OK. 40 stitches
but… she’s OK. Mother didn’t say
anything about a lawsuit. Yet…

It’s impossible. My girls patrol
those waters.


The dolphins. What if this was
Captain stares at Mitch, as if seeing him for the first time.

Mitch, I got a call. Did you take
Mr. Brody to break into the Medical
Examiner’s office on Wednesday?

Yes. I’m gathering evidence to
uncover a drug smuggling plot —

Jesus, Mitch! Can you hear
yourself? How you sound? I’m sorry,
but I really have no choice.
You’re done here. I want you off
the beach…

Mitch explains that a shark attack couldn’t have happened because he talks to dolphins. We know he’s right about Leeds chumming the water, but think about how ABSURD that is outside the parameters of this film.

The important idea to take away from this section is selecting the right tone.

If you’re writing an action comedy, entertain your reader in between the dialogue. It’s not enough for your characters to simply say funny things; the comedy should be conveyed in the description as well.

Do that, and do it successfully like this script did, and you’ll have scripts people will want to read.

(Contrarily this tone wouldn’t work for a drama or thriller. There you need to incorporate a tone that reflects the tense situations of the story.)

Want more helpful screenwriting tips and movie/script reviews? Follow this link to our Discussion Forum.

And be sure to check out our Notes Service, where I give my detailed thoughts and suggestions on your script.


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