Lt. Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) is a fearless, dedicated lifeguard who fights hard to protect the beaches of Baywatch alongside his team members. Soon it’s time to rally up some new recruits and among them is Matt Brody (Zac Efron), an obnoxious former Olympic swimmer who Mitch is not a fan of. The pair come at odds particularly when Mitch decides that the team needs to look into the pouches of drugs that are showing up on the beach. Mitch believes that their appearance is connected to a local businesswoman, Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra).
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aywatch, like many recent comedies, has the tendency to throw joke after joke at you, hoping something will stick. In fairness, most of the jokes land and there is an infectious sense of fun to the movie. Be warned though, its humour relies heavily on crudeness and dick jokes (including a gag involving a dick getting stuck in a bench which has a very There’s Something About Mary vibe) and boob jokes (they jiggle, who knew?) are aplenty. According to the movie’s logic, it’s ok when everyone’s objectified, and while that’s fair enough, its pertaining to fair sexual representation (sorry if this sounds a bit wanky, but it is annoying) is undermined by the fact that the female characters are, as is so often the case in Hollywood, completely underdeveloped. Still, everyone’s good to look at, so who really cares?
ne of Baywatch’s stronger features is the great chemistry developed between Efron and Johnson as the sparring leads. The latter mocks the former mercilessly and they share a relationship akin to Scrubs’ JD and Dr Cox. Heck, Mitch even refuses to call Matt by his first name. The rest of the ensemble cast includes Alexandra Daddario (who also played opposite Johnson in San Andreas), Kelly Rohrbach, Ilfenesh Hadera and Jon Bass, all of whom get their moment to shine, though Bass definitely gets the most laughs.
here Baywatch falters is in its crime plot which the film takes way too seriously. As a result, the latter half of the film feels somewhat misplaced as the approach preceding it was just to rip the piss out of everything. Mitch’s arguments for the lifeguards getting involved in police work – and as Matt says at several points, they should really leave this stuff to the police – never really hold water (if you'll pardon the pun), and the team prove time and time again that they don’t have the skills or resources of the proper authorities. The actors play this side of the story dead straight and act with a weighted sense of duty as they proceed with their investigation. Moreover, as the plot goes in this direction, there emerge plot holes that are too numerous to be ignored. For example, why does there seem to be only one policeman working in the entire region? If Victoria Leeds is so rich, why does she only have two bodyguards? Ronnie being a lifeguard makes no sense and they appear to have forgotten to finish Matt's backstory.
n any case, coming from the perspective of someone who hasn’t seen the original TV series, Baywatch will for the most part tickle your funny bone. Fans of The Rock will like it and if nothing else, it’ll get that epic song I'm Always Here stuck in your head just in time for some slow-mo beach running in the coming summer months.
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