Baywatch (2017) Review

Another summer, another big screen adaptation of a cult favourite TV show. This time, it’s nineties T&A-fest “Baywatch” being dragged in to cinemas with the hope the megawatt star charisma of Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron will be enough to fill up the big screen.

When disgraced Olympic champion swimmer Matt Brody (Zac Efron) is brought to Miami to join the Emerald Bay lifeguards, their chief Mitch Buchannan (Dwayne Johnson) insists he has to try out like everyone else. Meanwhile, a shady club owner has ambitions to develop the beachfront and Baywatch may be the only ones standing in her way.

Dwayne Johnson’s sheer watchability on screen remains undiminished and I’ll always have a soft spot for Zac Efron (for me, he’ll always be that young basketball captain who needs to get his head in the game) but even their combined charisma isn’t enough to keep this floundering “Jump Street” wannabe afloat.

It’s holed below the waterline from the start by the movie’s indecision over how to approach itself. Never entirely sure whether it wants to take the original series’ premise sort of seriously or whether to go full metatextual craziness and ends up falling into some uncomfortable middle ground where self-aware references are bolted on to frat boy dick and gross-out jokes, inexplicable cross-dressing and a lame and barely coherent drug/ real estate swindle plot. Even seasoned performers like Rob Huebel seem unsure how to play their characters, straight and serious one scene, off-kilter and jokey the next. There’s something about moving the setting from sunny California to the shores of Miami that also adds a faint sense of sleaziness to the whole thing which further undermines the humour on offer. The rest of the cast are actually pretty good and everybody seems really keen to make a great movie, but nobody seems to have a clear idea on how to do that. I was never a fan or a viewer of the original TV show and this trying-too-hard movie reboot isn’t winning me over.

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