Baywatch – Film Review by Fran Winston
Directed by: Seth Gordon
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, Jon Bass, and Ilfenesh Hadera.
For people of a certain age, Baywatch was an essential part of Saturday evening. Millions of fans tuned into the surf and sand saga before hitting the tiles and it was the most watched TV show of its era. That’s not to say it was especially good. The gorgeous cast and beautiful setting did nothing to disguise just how bonkers some of the storylines were (they had a mermaid plot at one point!) With such rich material to draw on it was only a matter of time before someone tried to give it the tongue in cheek, big screen treatment. Because make no mistake, unlike the show which took itself quite seriously, this offering is completely comfortable in taking the rip out of the source material.
The most likeable man in film according to many surveys, Dwayne Johnson takes on the role of Mitch Buchannon, made famous by TV icon David Hasslehoff in the show. He is in charge of the lifeguards on Florida’s Emerald Bay but when his captain insists that he allow a cocky disgraced former Olympic swimmer Matt Brody (Efron) join the team, he’s not amused. Especially since there are some dodgy dealings going down on his patch which he is determined to get to the bottom of. Cue lots of male posturing while the women perfect slow mo running in skimpy bathing suits.
If it sounds thin on plot that’s because it is. And I have seen some extremely brutal reviews of this movie (zero stars – harsh) but the reality is that if you go into this flick expecting high art you’re a bit of an idiot who will be sorely disappointed. If however you want a laugh or ten and some serious nostalgia with beautiful people in a beautiful setting, then you’ve come to the right place.
That’s not to say that they get that totally right either. An early scene where a character gets their penis caught in a lounger is tedious and doesn’t really bode well for the rest of the film. Also another penis joke in a morgue falls extremely flat (actually flaccid is probably a more appropriate word). It is puerile and immature, and completely detracts from the good points of the movie. And it does have good points. Efron and Johnson are a brilliant double act. And the way they mercilessly tease the source material is actually hilarious.
On the other side of the coin, cameos from Hasselhoff and Baywatch’s other megastar alumna Pamela Anderson are wasted and it is thin on story with a pretty ridiculous script in many parts. They also telegraph the bad guys far too early, so that the big reveal has little impact. But overall this is supposed to be a bit of fun and it succeeds around 3/4 of the time, making it far more watchable than some other “comedies” I could mention (which may or may not star Adam Sandler).
Don’t expect too much and you should enjoy this enough to justify the cost of your cinema admission.