Being superficial isn’t always a bad thing. If you’re aware of your own tendency for cheap thrills, tight asses and ripped torsos, you can lean into it and not come off as an asshole. Baywatch is vapid and lazy, but it’s loveable.
Dwayne Johnson plays giant superhuman lifeguard Mitch Buchanan, who stumbles upon a drug operation in Emerald Beach. As he steps out of his life-guarding remit to solve the crime, bad-boy swimming superstar Nat Brody (Zac Efron) is thrust upon him. Seafaring rescues, kooky heists and a fair few rounds of fisticuffs follow.
It exceeds in constructing funny awkward moments – taken to great heights by little-known name Jon Bass.
“That sounds like an entertaining, but incredibly far-fetched, TV show,” says leathery Zach, poking fun at the movie’s premise like so many ’80s TV show-turned-blockbusters. By not winking at the audience too much, and instead casually ignoring an incredibly shaky premise, Baywatch feels refreshing. Edgy, even. Several major plot turns hinge on the appearance of a Tag Heuer™ watch, others are solved with a mumbled one-liner. You’ll either find this frustratingly lazy, or plain hilarious.
The TV show was always about eye candy, and nothing was tuned down in the transition to the silver screen. The wide, orange beach sunset scenes are cosy. The people on display (barring Efron’s strange alligator hide) are unrelentingly beautiful – the boobs-pushed-up-to-the chin look becomes jarring only once. Maybe it’s superficial, but the cartoon-like figures, panoramas and action scenes leave a stronger imprint than the offensive mess of xXx: Return of Xander Cage.
Baywatch doesn’t have any self respect. It’s part cop show, part action movie, part gross-out comedy. All it cares about is delivering a few dozen tense, awkward and titillating beats, without any regard for how they fit together. Somehow, that makes for a really fun, dumb movie.
CAST: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario
DIRECTOR: Seth Gordon
WRITERS: Damian Shannon and Mark Swift (screenplay), Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon, David Ronn and Jay Scherick (story), Michael Berk, Gregory J. Bonann and Douglas Schwartz (based on the series by)
SYNOPSIS: Devoted lifeguard Mitch Buchanan butts heads with a brash new recruit. Together, they uncover a local criminal plot that threatens the future of the Bay.