It’s been 16 years since the original Baywatch graced our TV screens, and we all know you miss it. The slow motion running down the beach, bouncing boobs, shirtless, tanned bodies and sexual tension. Oh yeah and the lifeguard bit too. Director Seth Gordon brings us the modern day reboot, where the lifeguards don’t just sit in their tower all day, but rather in true Baywatch style flaunt their bodies on the beach, save lives and put their Sherlock hats on to show the Police how crimes are really solved.
Johnson plays Mitch Buchannon, who you may remember as the Hoff back in the day. He’s the self-declared lieutenant of the beach, and has the job to recruit 3 new trainees to his team. The other members of the team are made up of C.J. Parker (Kelly Rohrbach but that’s Pamela Anderson’s original character), and Stephanie Holden (Ilfenesh Hadera). The team enlist Matt Brody (Efron), a former Olympic athlete and gold medalist who had a fall from grace with the very unflattering nickname “the vomit comet” (I’ll let you figure that one out for yourself), Summer Quinn (Alexandra Daddario) and the incredibly awkward and a little bit chubby Ronnie (Jon Bass). The team fancy themselves as a little bit of a detective troop, and get involved with some criminal activity involving drugs, property and politics, lead by the beautiful but intimidating and ruthless Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra).
I asked this question after I watched “The Fate of the Furious” and I’ll ask it again- how does anyone remain alive much less standing after getting punched in the face by The Rock? That in itself is impressive. The guy is 6″5′ of pure muscle. In saying that, Efron has done one hell of a job building up a six pack (or is it an 8 pack? I think it might be an 8 pack) for the role, and boasts the strength of an ox. Not to forget the women, with fit bodies that would make anyone want to eat sushi off them. Clearly I’m getting off track here.
Baywatch is humourous in all the right places, and pays homage to the original series appropriately (for example, keeping the original character names) but also pokes fun at it too. It sticks to the well known cliches, and ultimately does them well but also with a tad of facetiousness. Mitch’s mentor, er, Mitch makes an appearance, and the original C.J. also brings back her glamorous self.
At times the green screen is obvious, when the team is screaming around the ocean on jet skis and circling around a burning boat. There are also moments where a scene will go for a little longer than it should, and the seamless transition between jokes is lost. The story gets lost somewhere around the 3rd quarter, as does The Rock, when he makes a very quick career change that wasn’t entirely necessary and just seems forced for the sake of implementing a cameo. It’s the old story of someone being thrust out of the spotlight and losing their self confidence, before having an epiphany and reappearing at the exact moment that his teammates need him most. It’s a tale as old as time, and the Baywatch effort at it seems unnecessary and a little bit lame.
Where Baywatch shines though is in its characters and casting, and the script overall is well written and very funny, witty and clever. It’s full of gross and offensive humour in parts, but it pulls it off very well. When The Rock delivers lines such as “a whole handful of ballsack”, he can get away with it. The jokes never feel forced, which makes for believable dialogue that one can almost relate to, despite the film being set amongst a veil of depressingly perfect looking women and men. Overall, Baywatch is a well-crafted comedy that doesn’t overstay its welcome.