OK, here’s the deal. Despite being a male in his late teens when it originally aired, I don’t think I ever watched an episode of Baywatch all the way through. Yeah, I might have done a Joey and Chandler and tuned in to appreciate the odd bit of slo-mo running, but as a piece of entertainment the show just didn’t really appeal to me. Also, I have a bit of a problem with movie ‘comedies’, which I’ve spoken about before in previous reviews. The majority of them just aren’t that funny. They try too hard, usually resorting to crass, gross or outrageous ‘humour’ and throwing everything at you in the hope that something might work and get a laugh. I much prefer movies which don’t necessarily class themselves as comedies but manage to feature plenty of funny moments anyway. A perfect example recently is Guardians of the Galaxy 2, which managed to raise some huge laughs from the cinema audience I watched it with, and from all ages too.
So, after all of the above why on Earth did I decide to go and see the Baywatch movie? Well, to be honest I really don’t know. Recently, having Zac Efron in a movie tends to be a bad sign, but I did like the look of trailer overall, despite it given off that certain ‘this looks like it might be really bad’ vibe. It really didn’t help when the one star reviews started flooding in earlier this week either and I seriously considered cancelling my ticket. But, my Cineworld Unlimited card was going to get me into this preview screening, so I had nothing to lose but my time. And possibly my sanity…
The movie starts off well, showing us the beautiful beach and introducing us to hero lifeguard Mitch (Dwayne Johnson) as he carries out yet another impressive rescue (500 and counting!). All of the locals know Mitch, and pretty much everyone has either been rescued by him before, or knows someone who has. He’s a hell of a guy. He has some banter with the local police officer, there’s some slo-mo stuff and the first of many surprisingly funny dick jokes. All good so far.
Then Matt Brody (Zac Efron) shows up. A disgraced Olympian swimmer, looking to join the Baywatch team. He’s cocky and arrogant, and is pretty annoying for a while. Luckily, he soon falls into line and actually turns out to be a pretty good addition to the movie. He gets involved in some fairly entertaining tryout scenes where three successful recruits will be selected to join Baywatch. After that, it’s time to introduce some kind of plot to see us through the rest of the movie.
Unfortunately though, this is where the movie falters. Our villain is Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra), probably the worst, most boring and least convincing villain I’ve seen in a long time. She’s involved in bringing drugs into the bay, getting hired goons to dispose of anyone that gets in her way, and something involving property development… I don’t know. It’s as if they saw what worked on the 21 Jump Street movie, with drugs and comedy and stuff, and tried to do that. Only it doesn’t work so well.
The team spend too much time doing the work of the cops as they try to uncover what Victoria is up to and the movie struggles at times as it sways between action drama and comedy. It barely manages to hold it all together at times but it does and that’s mainly down to the larger than life presence of Dwayne Johnson, who is very entertaining throughout.
Obviously, there’s plenty of eye candy on display during the movie, and not just for the male audience either. Although some of the female members of the team barely register as characters, having very little to do a lot of the time as the Johnson/Efron double act takes over.
I went in to Baywatch with low expectations, and not in the greatest of moods. But I was actually pleasantly surprised. There was a fair bit of action, the cast were mainly all good, it wasn’t trying too hard to be funny and there were even a couple of humourous cameo appearances from some of the TV show actors (you can probably guess which ones). All in all this is definitely worth a watch and not the complete car crash I was expecting.