Director: Seth Gordon
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Priyanka Chopra, Rob Huebel
Running Time: 116 minutes
Release Date: May 26
Baywatch tells the story of a tight-knit group of lifeguards, aptly titled ‘Baywatch’ – loosely inspired by a tv show from the 90s that was equally as unimpressive. Head lifeguard (which is apparently a thing) Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) and his new recruit Matt Brody (Zac Efron) must uncover a secret drug operation being run on their beach. While it presents itself as an ensemble picture, in reality, the story mainly focuses on Brody and Mitche’s budding relationship, following their harrowing (yet painfully clichéd) transition from two drastically different opposing forces to a strong cohesive team. In short, it brings absolutely nothing new to the table.
Baywatch is acutely aware of this though, often highlighting the ridiculous nature of the story throughout its duration. So before the viewer can crucify them with questions like, ‘why are lifeguards solving mysteries? Doesn’t that seem woefully unrealistic?’, the film is very quick to put itself on that same metaphorical cross. However, this doesn’t necessarily negate the problems, but at the very least allows for a certain degree of leniency in its critique. Now while a weak story does hold back this film, the overall cinematography make us inclined to ignore that fact. This thing is gorgeous to look at (minus one or two horrible CGI scenes), the director really makes an effort to take the subpar material given and elevate it to a higher level. It tries to distinguish itself from the usual fodder and in some circumstances succeeds, while in others, fails miserably. Awash in a sea of boobs, muscles and sun, Baywatch does paint a very pretty picture for itself.
However, what makes Baywatch a semi-passable film is the very fact that it’s fun. The soundtrack doesn’t sound like something that was composed for a movie, but rather some bloke’s party playlist. Yet despite this, it meshes beautifully with the film. The plot isn’t something overly-convoluted and in all likelihood took about five minutes to come up with, but remains enjoyable, albeit not entirely engaging for the whole thing. The characters, bar Brody, are pretty one-dimensional and don’t possess a lot of depth, yet despite this, remain extremely likeable and act as the bonding agent for the whole film.
Poor structuring, unfeasible romantic subplot and childish dick jokes aside, Baywatch was not a bad film. It also certainly wasn’t a great film. It proved to be extremely weak in certain areas and relied way too heavily on a plethora of dick jokes. Granted, they were kinda creative and funny in their delivery, but still…there are so many damn dick jokes. The advertising for the Seth Gordon film purported itself to be the must-see summer blockbuster of 2017, and we’re kinda inclined to agree. If you’re willing to switch off your brain for two hours and escape into a world of tanned muscular bodies, inordinate nudity and the odd explosive action sequence thrown in for good measure, then there’s no reason you shouldn’t be rushing to the cinema this very minute. That is, of course, assuming that you’re willing to turn off your brain and ignore the massive problems with the film.
Baywatch is a fun film, not a bad one, or even an objectively good one, but if you’re looking to leave the sun and spend an hour or so in a dark air-conditioned room watching this film, there are worse ways you could be using your time.