Movie spinoff of TV show is bawdy, brawny, spicy, sexy fun!
Starring Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach & Jon Bass
Directed by Seth Gordon
The first day of summer is still officially a few weeks away, but why wait? Let’s get the party started with some fun, sun, sand, surf, a little bit of action, a load of laughs and some totally rockin’ beach bods!
In Baywatch, devoted lifeguard Mitch (Dwayne Johnson) leads an elite team in protecting his stretch of California beach, especially when he gets a whiff of something unusually fishy—a drug-smuggling operation that threatens the future of the bay.
Johnson, the former pro wrestler known as The Rock, has become one of Hollywood’s most versatile stars, a mountainous Atlas of an actor who can glide effortlessly between bawdy comedy and explosive action, often in the same scene. In the opener, he dives dramatically off a rocky shoreline into choppy waters to save an unconscious, downed parasailer—then emerges, beaming with a billion-dollar smile as dolphins dance in the background and the movie’s title appears on the horizon.
Mitch then jogs along the beachfront, basking in the glow of his many fans—people he’s rescued, people who know people he’s rescued, people making sand sculptures of the sea god Poseidon with Mitch’s face.
Zac Efron plays Mitch’s new partner, Matt Brody, a former hotshot Olympic swimmer who comes aboard with muscles on his muscles—and a bit of a troubled past. Brody has to earn the respect of Mitch and the other lifeguards, Summer (Alexandra Daddario, who played Annabeth in the Percy Jackson movie series), C.J. (former Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kelly Rohrbach) and Stephanie (Ilfenesh Hadera from TV’s Billions and Master of None).
Bollywood superstar Priyanka Chopra (Quantico‘s Alex Parrish) portrays a ravishing real-estate mogul with sinister plans to expand her empire, drawing a city councilman (Oscar Nuñez) and a tech-savvy computer geek (Hannibal Burress) into her dark, dangerous web. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (from the Netflix series The Get Down) is the local police sergeant, constantly butting heads with Mitch.
Director Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses, Identity Thief) concocts some absolutely hilarious setups that take full advantage of the movie’s R rating—like a morgue investigation with an uproariously raunchy riff on Johnson’s well-known, real-life status as a titan of social media; a shower scene involving an a cappella rendition of Katy Perry’s Roar and a discussion of lunch menus; and an unfortunate incident on the beach that starts with a bag of candy and ends with a wooden lounge chair, a circle of smartphones and a painfully lodged body part.
Everyone gets lots of time to shine, but the movie’s main weapon in its comedy arsenal is Jon Bass, who plays Ronnie, the schlubby, tubby “outsider” chosen to be a lifeguard because of his spirit, spunk and heart. Bass, whose TV and movie roles include playing Del on the Comedy Central series Big Time in Hollywood, FL, definitely knows how to mainline the funny flow, and director Gordon gives him his own comedic subplot, a crush on fellow lifeguard C.J. And just wait until you see Ronnie’s surprising, bust-out moves on the dance floor!
The movie is wryly meta and self-aware of its TV roots. Baywatch was cancelled in 1989 after only one season on NBC, but went on to international fame in a decade of worldwide syndication, a slice of pure, exported American cheese as its characters dealt with problems ranging from beach bums to shark attacks, earthquakes and serial killers.
Late in the movie, a couple of all-stars from the TV show make cameo appearances.
“Why does she always look like she’s running in slo-mo?” Summer asks as the camera lingers (yes, in slow motion) on a jogging C.J. It’s a wink-wink reference to the television show’s frequent leering shots of its swimsuit-clad actresses as they ran on the beach, slowed to such a crawl that it looked like they were moving in molasses.
At one point, the seasoned lifeguards explain to Brody the variety of their work. They don’t just rescue drowning swimmers: They also chase away beach thieves, fend off schools of deadly manta rays, break up rings of offshore diamond smugglers…
“Sounds like a far-fetched TV show!” Brody says.
Hmmm, yes, it does—just one that’s quite bit more bawdy, brawny, spicy, sexy and fun!
In theaters May 25, 2017