Film & TV

Film Review: Baywatch

When a body is washed up on shore, an elite team of lifeguards set out to clean the beaches of a drug trafficking ring that’s come to the area.

‘Everything old is new again’ is a term to which Hollywood subscribes. Nothing is ever discarded with old ideas re-heated for new generations. Television has provided an abundance of material for films to plunder. An unlikely candidate is the 90s series Baywatch.

Featuring beefed up dudes and scantily clad ladies, Baywatch was a huge hit and gave actor David Hasslehoff a second shot at stardom. It was also a creative abyss, with the writing and acting low on the radar. Nevertheless it leaps from beach to screen in all its gaudy sun-kissed glory with its tacky surface complete.

The Baywatch squad is an elite team of lifeguards ready for action. Roaming the beach ensuring beach-goers’ safety is ensured, the squad’s leader Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) maintains a strict regime. His efforts quickly become undermined by new recruit Matt Brody (Zac Efron) whose free-wheeling attitude annoys Mitch. They don’t have long to argue when a body washes ashore. Discovering the deceased was part of an enormous drug trafficking ring, Mitch and his team aim to clean the beaches of this noxious form of human seaweed.

Baywatch continues the trend of re-imaging TV shows as comedies by ramping up the kitsch factor. It never takes itself seriously like the occasionally over-earnest TV series, with crude gags on high rotation. The threadbare plot is there to facilitate the next slice of below the belt humour and witty by-play. To its credit the Police Academy-style screenplay ensures the performers embody their silly characters and it gives them something to latch onto. Johnson, Efron and their co-stars throw themselves into the smut with a gusto that’s to be commended.

Seth Gordon directs with a light touch and he times the gags well. Pacing is everything in comedies and there’s barely a moment to be bored. There are occasions that are just as appalling as the TV series although anyone expecting an Oscar-worthy movie is watching the wrong thing. Baywatch is meant to be dumb, over-the-top fun and it mostly succeeds. The action sequences are exciting as it mirrors its television forebear well in that area.

Not quite a cinematic abomination, Baywatch is dopey entertainment for those liking this type of movie. The cinematography captures the film’s comic-book feel well and the cast are clearly having a good time. Once is enough for this motley crew though. The thought of a sequel would be as bad as hearing original star David Hasslehoff warble another shonky tune.

Reviewed by Patrick Moore
Twitter: @PatrickMoore14

Rating out of 10:  5

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