No one expects Shakespearean dialogue or plotting in a movie based on the jiggly TV series of the 1990s, but even the breeziest summer escapism shouldn’t be this stupid.
Dwayne Johnson is quickly established as the ultra-dedicated lifeguard chief of Emerald Bay. (If anything, he takes the role too seriously.) We also meet his team, including Alexandra Daddario, disgraced ex-Olympic swimmer Zac Efron, and the wannabes who aspire to join up—some for altruistic reasons, others so they can be near the great-looking guys and girls in swimsuits. A well-meaning sad sack (Jon Bass) starts to hyperventilate just being around a friendly blonde babe on the staff (swimsuit model Kelly Rohrbach).
But wait: there’s a mystery to be solved involving a greedy developer (played in one-note fashion by Priyanka Chopra) and corrupt local officials. This aspect of the film is so obvious that a fourth-grader could figure it out; somehow it took six people to craft this story and screenplay. It’s overflowing with jokey dialogue, but I can’t remember another recent movie where you can actually hear the one-liners falling flat with an audience, as I did.
I don’t think anyone who wants to see this movie demands great drama. They expect to see beautiful beach bodies and enjoy high-octane action. Baywatch supplies that, to some degree, but it’s weighed down with unnecessary story material and crude dialogue, which helps earn its R rating.
By the way, this piece of cinematic seaweed runs just shy of two hours. Surely some pruning by the writers, or director Seth Gordon, might have improved the end result.
Finally, I can report that there are cameos by the original TV series stars, David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson. They aren’t terribly funny but they’re present and accounted for. I wish their presence added something worthwhile to the proceedings.
This movie ought to be brainless summer fun. I’m sorry it isn’t.