Jacob Bock ’18/ Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Baywatch is the self-aware cheesy summer blockbuster that’s a complete treat to watch. The very first scene will tell you all you need to know about this film: Dwayne Johnson’s character dives into the ocean in slow-mo to save an injured kite surfer and erupts triumphantly from the water while colossal lettering spells out “BAYWATCH” on the sunset gold horizon (oh and there are high fiving dolphins). This movie is an unapologetic representation of modern Hollywood. Rebooting a retro franchise, check. Using big star power for appeal, check. Gratuitous action, lowbrow humor, check and check. Obligatory shots of the best beach bodies in show business, oh you better believe it’s a check! And you know what? It’s great! If you need a break from the plethora of hard hitting indie films and documentaries on Netflix, this film serves as the perfect palate cleanser. Despite its raunchiness, Baywatch has a purity about. The movie knows it exists purely for entertainment’s sake and in that clarity, kicks of summer with the spectacle of spectacles.
The cast was phenomenal. Dwayne the Rock Johnson did a fantastic job as Mitch, the head life guard. Although Johnson isn’t new to playing the tough guy, he refines the stereotypical macho man role with surgically accurate comedic timing and oodles of charisma. Zac Efron, as washed up Olympic swimmer Matt Brody, almost steals the show with his amazing comedic game and great physical humor. His character is the only one tasked with serious development and, delving deeper, Efron delivers completely. Make no mistake, despite his many roles as a dumb jock, Efron is a true craftsman and this performance is no exception. The two play-off each other really well. In fact, the whole cast has a natural chemistry. Alexandra Daddario also did really well and had a nice sarcastic humor about her. Ilfenesh Hadera wasn’t given a whole lot to do, but had a lot of presence in her small amount of screen time. If Baywatch has a sequel (and let’s be real, it probably will) it would benefit from having more of her character. Jon Bass plays the chunky everyman who made it onto the lifeguard team through pure heart. He has a lot of funny moments. The film shows its thoughtfulness by making him an equal to the other lifeguards, instead of the butt of the joke.
The movie plays well with the old franchise, including some great self-referential humor, and satisfactory cameos from the old cast. This movie is funny, but it’s not always laugh out loud funny. In fact parts of the film go long stretches without any laughs. This is partly due to the film’s surprising emotional maturity, spending time on developing characters and story. Unfortunately, most of the big funny moments are in the trailer. The plot is very formulaic and characters are all hackneyed archetypes. Frankly, women characters aren’t given enough agency within the film and feel more like accessories than part of the Baywatch team. The humor itself feels for, a lack of a better term, “bro-y”. While the film winks at audiences, playing into many movie tropes, it could’ve been funnier by playing on such expectations and flipping the script.
If you are intrigued by the trailers and like movies like 21 Jump Street, Baywatch is worth seeing in theaters with some friends on the weekend. However, even if you’re feeling iffy based on the previews this movie will still make an entertaining rental.
Overall Grade: B
Watch The Trailer: