Just in time for summer, the hit nineties television show Baywatch has been given the cinematic treatment. Directed by Seth Gordon, the modern-day reimagining stars Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as Lieutenant Mitch Buchannon, chief lifeguard at Emerald Bay, Florida. Along with his loyal team that includes Stephanie (Ilfenesh Hadera) and C.J. (Kelly Rohrbach), they run try-outs to find three new members and when disgraced Olympic swimmer Matt Brody (Zac Efron) signs up, cocky and full of confidence, he thinks he’s in for an easy ride. Before long, some dangerous criminal activity is discovered in the area, and the gang must come up with a plan to protect the bay.
Instead of emulating the format of the original, the concept is used as the basis of something very different: a gross-out comedy interspersed with a ridiculous crime conspiracy narrative, peppered with implausible ‘fast and furious on the beach’ action sequences. Because of this cocktail of styles, the film is tonally confused yet very aware of this, revelling in its own silliness.
I liked the comedic elements a lot more than the drawn-out action scenes, and Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron enjoy the insult-laden dialogue as their characters clash, each delivering a steady stream of jibes and put-downs throughout. Supporting roles are well-filled by Alexandra Daddario and Kelly Rohrbach though unfortunately both are a little underdeveloped. The cringe-factor is provided amusingly by Jon Bass as likeable loser Ronnie, putting in a Superbad-esque turn as he moves from one embarrassing moment to the next.
As summer blockbusters go, you could probably do worse than Baywatch, directed with a mindless sense of fun by Seth Gordon. Dwayne Johnson’s enthusiasm, energy and natural charisma carries the film about as far as it can go and he just about saves it from drowning in the choppy waves of self-parody. This is the epitome of ‘popcorn fodder’, full of sun-soaked unsavoury stupidity.