Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron star in a re-imagined version of the 90s show, Baywatch. Is this one worth checking out? Find out in our Baywatch review!
If you watched TV in the 90s, chances are you heard the iconic “I’ll bee therrrree” of the Baywatch theme song. It was a show that was on the air from 1989 to 2001, remarkably. The original show was mostly a drama featuring lifeguards dealing with over the top issues in the bay with a few light-hearted moments sprinkled in. The show focused more on the sex appeal of the actors and actresses as the years went on and less about being taken seriously. It wasn’t the best show by any means, but it had a solid following and was quite popular during its original run.
Here’s a bit of nostalgia from the original show:
When the film adaptation was announced as a comedy, I wasn’t quite sure how they were going to make it work. They did so by making something that borders more along the lines of a parody than anything resembling the original show. Baywatch doesn’t take long to get crude and there isn’t much of the movie that doesn’t revolve around some type of adult humour. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of comedy like that, but being rated-R, it goes over the top with quite a few gags. You could literally make a drinking game out of the number of times male genitalia are referenced and made fun of in this movie. It was only funny for so long before it got old.
Aside from all the humourous stuff, there is a pretty cohesive story here with a few subplots. Baywatch is looking for a few new recruits. This is where Zac Efron’s character, Matt Brody comes in. He’s a former Olympic swimmer serving a community service sentence who is cocky and arrogant and butts heads in the beginning with Lt. Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). Brody seems to think that he can make the team without going through the rigorous trials that everyone else has to endure, but Buchannon sees things differently.
As these two continue to take shots at each other, businesswoman Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra) is buying up all kinds of real estate in the bay to solidify her drug distribution ring. She either buys out property owners or threatens them with personal harm to make sure that she gains all the property she needs. Worse than that, she has key politicians in her back pocket to ensure that everyone turns a blind eye to her shady business plan. This unites the personalities of Baywatch together in an attempt to take down Leeds.
In moments when we’re not worrying about the over-arching plot, Baywatch focuses on a number of different romances within the team. Ronnie (Jon Bass) and CJ Parker (Kelly Rohrbach) are part of a romance that basically consists of CJ seeing his package enough times to think he’s suitable enough. The relationship between Matt Brody and Summer Quinn (Alexandra Daddario) is equally as mundane as that relationship. Even Buchannon teases a relationship with Stephanie Holden (Ilfenesh Hadera) and yet it never really materializes. Zac Efron and Dwayne Johnson are the clear focal points of this film. Their friendship receives more time and development than anything else. All the other characters feel pretty insignificant by comparison.
Baywatch made a few subtle nods to the original show including some cameos from Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff. I was pretty disappointed that the old theme song wasn’t really reused in this movie other than a 5-second snippet of it in one scene. It was, however, nice to see them use the original character names and use similar attire to the show. It was even better to see them make fun of the slow-motion walking/running multiple times. It was nice to feel that connection especially because this movie was such a departure from what the original show was like. It’s very similar to the 21 Jump Street remake a few years back. Even the story is pretty similar with the main characters trying to overthrow a drug ring.
It’s hard to recommend Baywatch to anyone but a comedy fan. This certainly isn’t a movie that should be taken seriously at all. That will only lead to disappointment. It’s probably going to rub fans of the original show the wrong way, it’s a completely different concept using the same characters and Baywatch name. Dwayne Johnson set out to make a movie that people would go to laugh at and I think he’s done that. It’s just a question of whether you think this type of humour is funny or not. It’s polarizing, and I’m not so sure that’s a good thing. If we don’t see a Baywatch 2, we’ll have our answer.