Review: Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron bulk the summer blockbuster up—with feast of abs, boobs, and sea-water—in all-new Baywatch. As another effort to revamp classic telly shows into big-screen (after 21 Jump Street and CHIPs, long after The A-Team), this diary of lifeguards ups its stakes with an infamous R rating. The rating seems imaginable—for a more explicit sexual contents and insensitive banters—at some points; but, it ends up being far-fetched and irrelevant eventually.
Johnson takes up the mantle long left by David Hasselhoff as Mitch Buchannon. He’s a former military who now serves as leader of Emerald Bay’s Baywatch—under fine amalgam of Johnson’s typical character and Hasselhoff’s persona. Meanwhile, Efron is Matt Brody, a former U.S. swimmer and Olympic medalist, sentenced to serve for community service as a lifeguard in Mitch’s domain after committing public embarrassment. Those two names are beacons for Baywatch aside from the team’s ‘babewatch’—Stephanie Holden (Ilfenesh Hadera), Summer Quinn (Alexandra Daddario), and C.J. Parker (Kelly Rohrbach, taking up the mantle from Pamela Anderson) —as well as the comic relief, Ronnie (Jon Bass).
Being innovative isn’t Baywatch’s strongest feature (ever since the beginning) and that follows until the end. Screenwriters Damian Shannon and Mark Swift explore no further than Mitch and Matt’s beef, which goes overly monotonous and one-way—especially in a way Mitch keeps calling Matt with names like, ‘One Direction’, ‘Bieber’, or even ‘High School Musical.’ Beyond that scope, Baywatch scores lackadaisical series of jokes—including some disturbing morgue jokes (which might give you a new respect to toilet jokes) and the ‘usual suspect’ of sexual innuendos—and combines them with lazy action sequences plus ridiculous villain motives.
While some of the shots still deliver little laughs, Baywatch’s R-rating is undoubtedly questionable. The script is almost always working on borderline (only one or two strips away from PG) except for those insensitive farces. Even Seth Gordon cannot replicate his high-energized gambol in his swearing spree, Horrible Bosses, since Baywatch plays too dead safely and seriously on a campy-ready material.
Final verdict, Baywatch could’ve been funnier, campier, and less MEH, despite The Rock and Efron’s fine effort.