This modern translation of an 90s classic shows that a little bit of humor goes a long way.
The concept of being a lifeguard is one that in and of itself draws you to only one conclusion: the job really isn’t that crazy. Sure, it is a serious job, but there is a certain lightness to it that makes it a very overlooked position. However, as the long running TV series and now the film of the same name Baywatch has shown us, it could get very crazy. The plot is fairly simple. A beloved and iconic lifeguard group called Baywatch patrols the beach as a power hungry drug dealer seeking to dominate the coastline is encroaching on their beach. It does make for an interesting watch.
Seth Gordon, who directed this film, has had a great stint of directing comedies. Baywatch is another addition to that list. He does a great job of providing the quintessential characteristics of Baywatch while still making it new and different for a more modern interpretation. If you’re a fan of the original series however, you’re going to be in for a surprise. The original series was known for its sex appeal as well as it’s drama and action. The film keeps the sex appeal, but trades away some of the drama and action for comedy. While there are still tense moments and plenty of explosions and near death rescues, comedy throughout lightens the mood and tension of the film. The humor certainly overpowers the other elements of this film and is more of a comedy than anything else. With that said, there are some good jokes and funny scenarios throughout.
The cast is great. Any film cast that includes Dwayne Johnson is immediately elevated to the status of being a great cast. He’s a wonder to watch in any genre, which goes especially well as this film jumps between them throughout. Priyanka Chopra plays a very enjoyable fake Bond villain type of character. Zac Efron also melds action and comedy very well playing a sort of Ryan Lochte parody. Kelly Rohrbach who plays CJ does a great job of providing really great comedic breaks throughout the film and Alexandra Daddario and Ilfenesh Hadera do a great job of adding a serious tone to the job. While each cast member generally does good job of bringing their characters to life, there is no group chemistry. There is chemistry in one to one relationships, such as between Zac and Dwayne’s characters, but that chemistry doesn’t translate to the entirety of the group. Each character is segmented into the different relationships they have with other characters. For example, Zac and Alexandra from the opening scene have hints of a romantic attraction, which defines their relationship. Likewise, from the first scene, we see Zac and Dwayne have team leader and team player dynamic.
The nature of the character relations presents a larger problem which keeps this film from being great, memorable, or a classic. Each member of baywatch is linearly connected to other people, but those lines never cross and there is no cohesive unit. The film spends a good amount of time focusing on action, light history on the characters, and what baywatch is. However, there is no definition or unofficial test as to what it means to be a part of baywatch. With all the emphasis on being a team player, there is no indicator of what it means to be on the team other than the simple and straightforward idea that you shouldn’t be a lone wolf, which leaves a lot to be desired. It makes this unit, which sets itself as this beloved and reputable group, seem like just a regular team with no uniqueness. If anything indicates how distant each member of baywatch is from one another, just take a minute to note how little time each lifeguard spends on screen together as a unit. Most of the film is a focused on a single dynamic, such as romance or rivalry.
The question then, is should you watch this movie? Well, the plot is without a doubt very formulaic and something you’ve seen before, the film doesn’t achieve the potential it had going in, and the baywatch squad feels more like acquaintances than the avengers on the beach. However, it is funny at times and features Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron in some great scenes together. It’s a decent film. If you want a funny blockbuster to watch, this is the perfect pick.