Directed by: Seth Gordon
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, IlfeneshHadera, Jon Bass, Priyanka Chopra, Hannibal Buress
Release date: May 29, 2017
Running time: 116 minutes
Since Starsky and Hutch showed there was gold to be mined from old school TV shows. Hollywood has churned out versions of everything from Bewitched to 21 Jump St with varying degrees of success. Baywatch is the latest to come ashore with a take that thankfully is more Jump St than CHIPS. Powered by the megawatt charisma of Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron Baywatch takes the already ridiculous premise of the TV show and adds layers of gross-out humour, dick jokes and genuinely thrilling action scenes.
Efron, in particular, is fantastic, it’s not easy to outshine the biggest movie star on the planet but he is developing into an A-lister in his own right. Gradually shaking off the teen heartthrob tag with much smarter progression than Robert Pattinson who seems so desperate to escape from Twilight that any momentum he had has come to a grinding halt in the wake of some bizarre role choices. Efronisn’t in a rush to burn down the house he grew up in and even references his High School Musical breakout role in a clever exchange. His recent casting as serial killer Ted Bundy shows he is ready to move on to the next phase of his career and leave behind the gross-out comedies he has carved himself out a niche in recently.
The jokes are a mixed bag, at times the film seems unsure of how to play the humour and decides to throw everything at it and hope something sticks. One fight scene between Johnson and henchmen awkwardly shifts tone several times during the course of one exchange from slapstick to Bourne-esque. Much like director Seth Gordon's previous effort, Horrible bosses the film could have done with tighter direction and a some more concise edits. Some land perfectly, like a hilarious exchange in the morgue while others like Efron needlessly dressing as a woman would have been best left on the cutting room floor. The Hoff Cameo is clumsily handled and his scene in the outtakes makes much better use of his comedic talents.
Much like its stars Baywatch is easy to look at, they are clearly having a blast and it’s hard not to get swept up with them. Efron and Johnson have great chemistry and the film suffers when they are separated. That said if you go in ready to switch your brain off and engage in mindless fun Baywatch delivers the goods.
3 out of 5
Words Andy McCarroll