Cue the slo-mo and skimpy red cossies – Baywatch is back! But you might wonder why ……
It’s not so long ago that a certain Guy Ritchie made a film called The Man From UNCLE. The resemblance to the original TV series was fleeting, to say the least: the secret agent double act kept their names, but anybody expecting a piece of 70s nostalgia to remind them of the hit show was sorely disappointed.
By the time Bank Holiday Monday arrives, Baywatch could find itself in the same situation. The film takes its inspiration from the schlocky TV show of the 80s, which made household names of The Hoff and Pamela Anderson. They both have cameos in the film – there would have been an outcry if they hadn’t – but this time round their characters are played respectively by Dwayne Johnson and Kelly Rohrbach, who looks more like Pamela Anderson than Pamela Anderson. The female lifeguards still wear red cossies, C J still runs in slo-mo and the film doesn’t take itself seriously. It’s probably just as well.
Yet Mitch (Johnson) and the gang take things very seriously indeed. They’re not just lifeguards, keeping people safe on the beach, but an unofficial crime prevention unit. All of which provokes banter with the local cop, whose toes are sore from being trodden on all the time. The original Baywatch wasn’t exactly known for its plots, and the film follows the tradition. It all involves the arrival of a new recruit, Matt Brody (Zac Efron), who is imposed on the gang and keeps messing up. But when they tangle with a local businesswoman who they suspect is importing drugs, Mitch suffers the most and Matt has to lead the team – and catch the villains.
If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ll know that subtlety isn’t its strong point, especially when it comes to humour. But you wouldn’t expect anything else. New recruit Ronnie Greenbaum (Jon Bass) has the hots for C J and it literally shows. Which is very painful when he’s trapped in a wooden seat on the beach. There’s more like that and they’re more explicit. Are they actually funny? Sometimes …..
That trailer was greeted with derision and expectations plummeted as a result. In truth, the film isn’t that terrible and even has a couple of saving graces. Johnson is one, because of his usual on-screen charm, although the shame is that he’s not allowed to flex his comedic muscles in the same way as in Central Intelligence. And Bass is likeable as the chubby, unlikely lifeguard who eventually gets the girl that everybody wants. Somehow, you can’t help but take to him.
It’s funny at times, it’s reasonably entertaining, but the film does look dated, mainly because of those cossies and all the sexist jokes. Despite the finale being crammed with techie stuff, it’s as if Baywatch has never escaped the 80s.