It was almost inevitable that at some point they’d make a movie version of Baywatch. It was, after all, the most popular TV show in the world in the 1990s, and its reputation for being a bit silly and cheesy meant it was ripe for comedy/parody. However, it’s also the sort of property that could have resulted in a truly dreadful film.
I suppose I ought to say what the Baywatch movie is about, but it doesn’t matter an awful lot, as the plot often feels like the least important part of the film. Dwayne Johnson is Mitch Buchanan, head of Emerald Bay’s lifeguards. He has a new recruit thrust upon him – disgraced double Olympic swimming champion Matt Brody (Zac Efron). The young buck isn’t that impressed about being there, and thinks the lifeguards should be honoured he’s walking amongst them. He’s also a bit confused about why Mitch and his fellow guards seem to spend most of their time fighting crime rather than saving people from drowning.
As Mitch gets drawn into a conspiracy involving drugs and the new owner of a beachside club (Priyanka Chopra), Matt slowly begins to realise that while he’s become part of a very unusual group, perhaps it’s something worth belonging too.
The story is mainly an excuse to string together a variety of comedy scenarios, action sequences and a lot of dick jokes. The film also realises that it lives and dies on the chemistry between the actors, with Johnson and Efron proving to be good verbal sparring partners, while the likes of Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, Jon Bass and Ilfenesh Hadera also add charm. Without such a good-looking and talented cast, the whole movie would have been interminable, as the plot hardly exists.
There’s nothing earth-shattering here, but Baywatch is more fun that it could easily have been, especially considering how predictable the movie is. There are also a lot of jokes that fall flat and much of the R-rated humour is more annoying than funny – particularly a scene involving Efron touching a dead guy’s dick, which the film seems to think is edgy, but which is actually unpleasant, unnecessary and verges on trying to make comedy out of sexual assault.
Thankfully, Dwayne Johnson is so frigging likeable on screen that he alone pulls things back from the edge of tedium and desperation on numerous occasions. The camaraderie of the cast, muscles (particularly Zac Efron, whose torso is so ripped it barely looks real) and the fact its tongue is just far enough in its cheek means it’s a decent watch for a couple of hours. Afterwards, even if you end up thinking it was a bit rubbish, it’ll probably have kept you smiling.
The Blu-ray includes an Extended Cut of the film, but there’s very little added that makes any difference to the overall movie, other than adding a little to the runtime.
Overall Verdict: Baywatch is not a good movie, but thanks to the chemistry of the cast, and particularly the charm of Dwayne Johnson, it’s more entertaining than a movie based on such a mediocre script ought to be.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac