By Alexia Evripidou
Fans of the late 80s and 90s TV hit series Baywatch should prepare to be sadly disappointed by movie inspired by the show. It is a painful two hours and the film is its own worst enemy; although the first 30 minutes show promise it never quite delivers the goods. Despite a talented cast, with two huge Hollywood actors well seasoned in the comic genre, the script is weak, the humour stale and the plot twists well below par, even by 90s TV standards! Neither Dwayne ‘Rock’ Johnson or Zac Efron could save it from drowning.
Even a predictable and flimsy story line would have been acceptable and somewhat expected for this type of film had the script been entertaining instead of saturated with one-liners that crash land as soon as they are spoken. A pity really as it did have the elements to be a fun and light hearted movie.
The plot, like many of the original storylines, is simple. Lifeguard Mitch Buchannon (Johnson), impetuous new Baywatch recruit Efron and the remainder of the scantly-clad Baywatch team uncover an illicit plot which threatens the future of their precious bay. Lieutenant Mitch is somewhat of a legend at the bay with a reputation for being a man who many owe their lives to. However it seems lifeguarding for him is more than just being able to swim and save countless lives, it’s about solving crimes too. The team take their work incredibly seriously (with the exception of Efron’s character Matt) and as dedicated lifeguards they set out to get to the bottom of this fishy barrel of criminality, with predictable plots and painful penis humour along the way. Some of the jokes, albeit not very unoriginal are laugh out loud funny, which is what makes it worse in a way; reminding the viewer what they are missing out on during the remaining 90 minutes of the film.
I’m not opposed to toilet humour or cheap gags, there’s a place for everything in film, but only when done well.
As the elite team of lifeguards Mitch, Stephanie (Ilfenesh Hadera) and CJ (Kelly Rohrbach) train up three new members, Matt, surfer Summer (Alexandra Daddario) and the least likely lifeguard ever computer geek Ronnie (Jon Bass). After noticing bags of the drug flakka washing up on the beachfront the team investigate the rise in narcotic activity which ultimately leads to the new owner of the expensive beach front resort The Huntley Club and Bond type villain Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra). Ignoring their superior’s warnings to stay away, the team continue to dig deeper, uncovering erm, just a slightly more complicated operation.
At least Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff are in it, but try not to blink, as their cameos are so small, you may miss them. Fans, don’t despair, you’ll be happy to hear that Baywatch does reintroduce beautiful bodies in teeny costumes, abs in places that you never knew existed and slow motion running shots with cleavages bouncing around freely, and it even makes fun about it too. In fact, it goes out of its way to laugh at itself with a mixture of self depreciating humour and semi seriousness.
But the most mind numbing part is the feeling that the film is living from scene to scene; aiming to get in as many cliched cheap laughs into each one as possible whether they actually work or not. For example, Mitch refuses to call Matt by his real name, addressing him each and every time by a different boyband name and although this might be humorous at the beginning by the end when Matt actually elevates his game and Mitch refers to him as Matt, you’ve stopped caring.
At best Baywatch is a mediocre, highly predictable, buddy film with more action than humour. At worst, it’s abs, boobs and hit and miss one liners. To conclude in the words of Victoria Leed: “this is so tacky” and sadly yes, most of it was.
DIRECTED BY Seth Gordon
STARRING Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Priyanka Chopra
US 2017 116mins