Baywatch (15)



Comedy (2017)
116mins US

Starring: Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Dwayne Johnson, Priyanka Chopra, Mark Swift, Kelly Rohrbach
Director: Seth Gordon
Writer(s): Damian Shannon
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Mitch Buchannon leads the lifeguards of Emerald Bay, encouraging his crack team to stay alert in the blazing sun. After a gruelling obstacle course, disgraced former Olympian Matt Brody, strong-willed Summer Quinn and socially awkward Ronnie are selected to train under Mitch, his second-in-command Stephanie Holden and CJ Parker. During the initiation, Mitch becomes suspicious of Victoria Leeds, who owns the beach-front Huntley Club.

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LondonNet Film Review
Baywatch (15)

The iconic 1990s TV series starring David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson dives onto the big screen and paddles through a weak comedic undercurrent in Seth Gordon's potty-mouthed blockbuster. Relocated from the golden beaches of Los Angeles County in California to the fictitious, body beautiful paradise of Emerald Bay in Florida, this beefed-up Baywatch aims for the same jocular tone as the recent 21 Jump Street revamp. Screenwriters Damian Shannon and Mark Swift embrace toilet humour with sniggering gusto, including one protracted sequence involving a male character getting his lower portions wedged between wooden slats of a beach recliner. It's not enough to allude to the swollen obstruction...

Baywatch. Copyright: 2016 Paramount Pictures. Caption: Dwayne Johnson as Mitch Buchannon and Zac Efron as Matt Brody in Baywatch. Photo: Frank Masi. All Rights Reserved.Director Gordon captures the humiliation in lurid close-up then lowers the tone further with full frontal male nudity that requires Zac Efron to manhandle the undercarriage of a deceased male. Throughout each filthy-minded interlude, Dwayne Johnson flashes the winning smile that has elevated him to the most bankable film star in the world. Tomfoolery abruptly stops every time a swimmer gets into trouble and director Gordon awkwardly shifts gears to orchestrate propulsive action sequences that remind us these puerile pranksters are employed to save lives. The tug-of-war between goofball comedy and heroism tears at the seams of Baywatch and the film is caught between the irresistible star power and charm of The Rock and a hard place.

Mitch Buchannon (Johnson) leads the lifeguards of Emerald Bay, encouraging his crack team to stay alert in their figure-hugging bikinis and shorts. Every summer, they audition new recruits on a punishing obstacle course, which Mitch and co have nicknamed the Absentee Father. This year, disgraced former Olympian Matt Brody (Efron), strong-willed Summer Quinn (Alexandra Daddario) and socially award misfit Ronnie (Jon Bass) are selected to train under Mitch, second-in-command Stephanie Holden (Ilfenesh Hadera) and dreamy blonde CJ Parker (Kelly Rohrbach). During initiation, Mitch becomes suspicious of Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra), who owns the swanky beach-front Huntley Club. He fears that Victoria is flooding the beach with drugs to drive down property prices. Mitch and the team investigate in strict defiance of orders from Captain Thorpe (Rob Huebel). However, success depends on new boy Matt, whose heavy drinking continually undermines Baywatch's covert investigations, bringing the lifeguards into conflict with local cop Garner Ellerbee (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). "You got one job," the officer reminds Mitch, "make sure swim-happy white people don't drown".

Wearing its 15 certificate with blushing pride, Baywatch peddles nudity, swearing and exploding bodily fluids to appeal to the target teenage demographic. Cameos from Hasselhoff and Anderson, the latter performing a slow-motion hair toss in designer heels that would be completely unsuitable for a beach, provide tenuous links to the small screen original. Otherwise, Green's film strikes out on its own and repeatedly face-plants the sand.

- Jo Planter

Baywatch. Copyright: 2016 Paramount Pictures. Caption: Dwayne Johnson as Mitch Buchannon and Zac Efron as Matt Brody in Baywatch. Photo: Frank Masi. All Rights Reserved.


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