Perhaps it began with Starsky and Hutch? It was certainly perfected by 21 Jump Street. Parody-esque reboots of vintage TV shows have been peppered through recent film history. They’re fun, they’re dumb, and they’re a good Sunday afternoon watch. Baywatch pretty much fits the bill, there.
Taking the reins from the untouchable David Hasslehoff, Dwayne Johnson steps into the shoes of Mitch Buchanan in this self-aware summer romp. The very first noticeable part of Baywatch is the objectification – I know, I promise I’ll be a beach about this real quick and then the review gets more upbeat.
At first, the lingering face-free shots of bikini clad women in the same Hollywood cookie-cutter shape was eye-rolling. However, I’ll be the first to cry hypocrite – because the objectification didn’t just stop at the ladies and I’m not going to sit here and pretend Matt Brody (Zac Efron) climbing an obstacle course shirtless didn’t do things to me that I’m less than proud of.
There’s an attempt at balancing the playing field a little by focussing on dudes as well as women – but it’s hard to deny the blatant male gaze of director Seth Gordon’s approach. Butts and boobs aside, however, Baywatch is witty. It’s by no means clever – quite the opposite. But it’s fun – and what’s more, it’s very funny.
The film centres around new Baywatch recruits Summer (Alexandra Daddario) and Ronnie (Jon Bass) – and Matt (Efron), an ex-olympic swimmer with a chip on his shoulder and a hatred for team work. Whilst the team is in training, they learn of a drug operation led by millionaire Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra), and take it upon themselves to investigate and shut it down in order to protect the bay.
With constant nods to its parent show, and (perhaps one too many) meta jokes about the lack of jurisdiction for life guards in a drug-bust, there were understandably constant laughs throughout the very over-the-top film. Not gut-bustingly funny, but certainly enjoyable.
The Rock’s ridiculous tongue-in-cheek performance keeps the show afloat (sorry not sorry) even its most ridiculous moments, and bounces off of Efron with entertaining gusto.
Its stupidity doesn’t detract from the warmth of the characters, though they come across as one-dimensional and cartoonish in a way that feels almost purposeful – almost as forced as Ronnie’s love arc with CJ (Kelly Rohrbach), a couple with as little on-screen chemistry as they had dialogue (spoiler – it’s not a lot).
Boob shots, prosthetic penises, puns and blue humour, Baywatch is a self-deprecating, silly, and ostentatiously stupid film – and an absolute must-watch for anyone who fancies something fun, light hearted and silly.
Is it a work of art? No. Is it going to go down as a great movie? No. Should you watch it anyway? Dude, go for it.
Baywatch is out in cinemas now!