Paramount just loves to throw their cash around. Sure, they can afford it; with such flagship franchises as my beloved Transformers—and their celluloid juggernaut director, Michael Bay—the studio couldn’t care less if a film they put out is a critical canner or not. As long as people flock to see their movies, it’s a win, as it should be for any movie. If it’s suspected to be any good or fun, the people will turn up at the box office with the money to show for it.
That’s what this modern-day reimagining of Baywatch is—a definite “bro movie” that, like many others in its genre, isn’t a masterpiece, but a mode of escapism. And that’s the kind of movie I set out to enjoy.
First of all, the cast is cool. The cameo appearances by David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson feel shoehorned, but I digress… Dwayne Johnson as the film’s frontman is the raunchiest and most active I’ve ever seen him in a role, and I like it. A lot. He’s just a fun presence on-screen. Alexandra Daddario as Summer Quinn and the rest of the Emerald Bay crew are stunning, yet aren’t just slow-mo eye candy; they get it done, no messing around…well, maybe just a little. Priyanka Chopra (ABC’s Quantico) is your typical, black-and-white villain, but such is Hollywood filmmaking these days. I was particularly pleased with Zac Efron as Brody, though. He’s come a long way since his High School Musical days, done a lot of growing up—physically and figuratively. I’m looking forward to him sticking around Hollywood for a long while.
This movie looked really neat in 4K. The sets are lively, colorful, and the CG—though tacky in parts—is made for the big screen. Some jokes and scenes drag on for a little too long, and this nearly-two-hour movie could’ve been trimmed down by about ten or fifteen if a little “fluff” was cut loose in the editing room. However, the picturesque opening shots, the film’s over-the-top crude humor and upbeat posture, and the fact that it gets right into the extreme lifeguard action had me smiling for the front third of the film. The aforementioned drag kind of cratered my interest towards the middle, but it wasn’t lost for long. If you’re looking for a summer escape without heading to the beach, yourself, look no further.
There’s a heavy concentration on the brotherly dynamic between Johnson and Efron’s characters, as well as Brody and Quinn’s sexual tension. Jon Bass and Kelly Rohrbach are cute, and you kind of figure that the geek will get the girl all the way through the film. However, because of this particular focus on building up certain pairs, some characters get completely sidelined. While still involved centrally in the plot, we don’t end up garnering a complete appreciation for them like we do the above. I know it’s just entertainment, but there are backstories that are teased, but are never fleshed out. Maybe it’s just me, being a nitpicky writer…
Final ‘Risk Assessment: ***/**. Brimming with in-jokes, nods to and jabs at the original show, Baywatch is pure, dumb fun. Oh…and expect a sequel to be steamrolled by Paramount over the next year or so, because…well, why not?
Next review: TBA