Poor Baywatch sunk by sense of deja vu
The Rock is no match for the cynicism, lack of ambition and sheer incompetence of this film.
BAYWATCH (R13, 116 MINS), DIRECTED BY SETH GORDON,
So far this week, I’ve shared a bathroom with a spider the size of my hand, developed a raging toothache and seen Baywatch. Given the choice of dropping one, I could have done without the toothache – but Baywatch is running a close second.
Where do we even begin with Baywatch? Do you need me to tell you the film is a reboot of the much-derided 1990s TV show?
The show was distinguished by the surpassing daftness of its lifeguards-as-crime-stoppers storyline, for relaunching the career of David Hasselhoff and for the hilariously pragmatic decision to have at least one slowmo shot per episode of Pamela Anderson’s feisty CJ running towards camera in her togs.
Baywatch went on to become a syndicated sensation and one of the most-watched TV shows of all time. Baywatch was broadcast in 142 countries and has been watched by an estimated billion people. Seen today, Baywatch looks like a curiously innocent and family-forward celebration of perfectly self-aware trash TV at its absolute apex.
And maybe there was a good film waiting to be spun from Baywatch. Hell, I’ve seen funny and entertaining films of The Brady Bunch, Get Smart and 21 Jump Street. Give me a few beers and a tail-wind and I’ll even tell you how The A-Team movie is a watchable couple of hours if you’re in exactly the right mood.
All it takes is wit and good humour, a fine sense of what worked about the source material and an understanding of exactly how the world has moved on in the years since. None of which you’ll find in the shallow end of the fetid pool this Baywatch is fitfully thrashing around in.
Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron take the leads as uberdedicated head guard Mitch and brash new recruit Brody. Johnson and Efron have charisma in spades, with Johnson having rescued many films by sheer force of will and likeability. But even the Rock is no match for the cynicism, lack of ambition and sheer incompetence of this film. It starts promisingly enough, with a five-minute opening stanza that briefly made me hope for another 21 Jump Street- style parody.
But, nah. Writers Mark Swift and Damian Shannon ( Freddy vs Jason) haven’t got two solid ideas to rub together, and their story soon reverts to a lazy farrago of gross-out set-ups tenuously linked by some tired rubbish about drug gangs and corruption in city hall.
All of which we have seen done better, many, many times before. By the time Anderson and Hasselhoff turn up for their achingly predictable cameos, whatever affection or hope we might have had for this Baywatch have long sunk beneath the waves. – Graeme Tuckett
Even the undoubted charisma of Zac Efron and Dwayne Johnson can’t save the Baywatch film.