LET’S get one thing straight from the get-go: Baywatch was not a good TV show.
It may have run, in slow-mo, for over 10 years and was at one point the most watched TV series in the world, but it certainly wasn’t something anyone would call “quality”.
For all its cheesiness and jiggling boobs, there was still something oddly innocent about the 90s series that made an international star out of Pamela Anderson.
The Baywatch movie can claim no such thing. It is replete with smutty dick jokes. Dick jokes that seem to have no end — milked for every awkward, gay panicked, unnecessary moment. Just, why?
Starting with source material that should never have been resurrected, the Baywatch reboot is limp, boring and exactly as awful as you would expect.
It makes some half-arsed attempts at poking fun at itself but mostly tries, and fails, to be earnest. For a movie about lifeguards at the beach based on a terrible 90s TV show, it takes itself way too seriously — right down to what a killjoy character the usually charming Dwayne Johnson is saddled with.
Baywatch gets in some potshots at the outlandish plots of the TV show and then does the exact same thing itself. And it takes the piss out of the brand’s trademark slow-mo running until it doesn’t, like as if the filmmakers forgot halfway that they’re not making a super-super-extended episode of the show (stretching in at two hours, it’s at least 40 minutes too long).
The story (and yes, there is one) follows veteran lifeguard Mitch (Johnson) and his crew around Emerald Bay, a beach with no waves. Former Olympic gold medallist and general screw-up Matt Brody (Zac Efron) starts duty after passing a bizarre obstacle course designed to show off Efron’s out-of-control muscle situation.
Mitch stumbles into a nefarious drug ring being run out of the new Huntley Club and a plot to take over the beach precinct by the most careless and inept bad guys ever seen outside of a Dick Dastardly scheme. With the reluctant help of Brody, a nerdy new guy and three virtually indistinguishable female lifeguards in terms of characterisation they try to save the beach.
Priyanka Chopra’s villain, Victoria Leeds, and her henchmen are so cartoonish they may as well have been drawn with horns and dropping ACME anvils at every opportunity.
The only character that manages to get off some funny lines is the maligned cop, Garner Ellerbee, played with on-point deadpan-ness by up-and-comer Yahya Abdul-Mateen.
I’m not saying that there was anything that could’ve saved Baywatch from the floundering flop it became — the whole concept was ill-conceived — but it might’ve been more watchable if it managed to have a bit more actual fun, not dunce-level antics masquerading as fun.
It may have been slugged as an action-comedy but Baywatch is only good for about three giggles and 76 eye-rolls.
Baywatch is in cinemas from Thursday, June 1.
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