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‘Baywatch’ (review)

Produced by Ivan Reitman, Tom Pollock,
Beau Flynn,
Dwayne Johnson,
Michael Berk, Dany Garcia,

Douglas Schwartz, Gregory J. Bonann
Screenplay by Damian Shannon, Mark Swift
Story by Jay Scherick, David Ronn,
Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant
Based on Baywatch by Michael Berk,
Douglas Schwartz, Gregory J. Bonann
Directed by Seth Gordon
Starring Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron,
Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach,
Jon Bass, Ilfenesh Hadera, Priyanka Chopra

Baywatch is the latest remake of a beloved, yet ridiculous TV show of my youth that was an international sensation.

Director Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses) captures the vibe of Coppertone infused “procedural” show that launched the careers of several of the 90’s biggest model/actress, and made David Hasselhoff a household name for a second time.

This film remake is no less absurd than it’s tv predecessor, but it’s tongue is firmly in its proverbial cheek the whole time.

The original formula still holds, a group of lifeguards compelled to go beyond their job descriptions to fight crime, drugs, and evil commercial take-overs to protect the people of their beach and the surrounding community. Who needs cops?  They’re lifeguards!  They got this.

To paraphrase a line from the film; it sounds like a show with a highly improvable storyline that is entirely entertaining.

Dwayne Johnson takes the baton from Hasselhoff as Mitch Buchannon, head lifeguard.  He’s everyone’s best buddy, earnest leader, and all around good guy.

In true Baywatch fashion he is backed up by a team of strong women: Summer, the new recruit (Alexandra Daddario); C.J., the heart of the team (Kelly Rohrbach); and Stephanie, the stern second in command (Ilfenesh Hadera).

Jon Bass is brought into play Ronnie, the heavy set, every man that is the comic relief.  Zac Efron rounds out the team as pretty boy Matt Brody, reluctant recruit and verbal punching bag. Our beautiful, but unqualified team works to uncover the drug trafficking of Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra), a successful business women with most of the communities politicians in her pocket.

If you have seen one episode of Baywatch the TV show, then you have seen them all. The movie Baywatch takes all your 80’s film and TV tropes and delivers them with a heavy helping of self awareness. It turns the tropes on their heads and makes it a comedy that is relevant for a new generation. The lovely ladies are the ones sexualizing their male counterparts. The fat kid is on the team to make us laugh, but his awkwardness never makes him the outsider.  The story isn’t subtle, and it isn’t meant to be. It is chock full of visual gags and body humor that is the staple of these kind of comedies.

Yet, somehow the screenwriters Damian Shannon and Mark Swift spin the empty mental-calorie cotton candy of a story into a laugh out loud comedy.  The cast helps to sell it with their wink-wink delivery, and what has to be a personal love of the source material.  Baywatch is peppered with verbal Easter eggs and a couple of cameos that are sure to please fans of the original show. The film is nothing more than just under two hours of fun, and you can’t really ask more of it than that.

Baywatch is the Twinkie you know you shouldn’t eat.  It’s a 100 percent artificial, but you enjoy every bite.



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