Has your life been empty since the final episode of TV series Baywatch in 2001? Have you found that nothing will fill that double-D shaped void in your soul? Nope, me neither, but they’ve made a movie anyway. Starring highest paid actor Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and teen heartthrob Zac Efron, plus a few unknown yet attractive actresses, the Baywatch lifeguards are back on duty.
Cocky Olympic swimming gold medallist Matt Brody (Zac Efron) is sent to Emerald Bay to join a team of lifeguards, headed by local hero Mitch (Dwayne Johnson). Expecting a free pass, he’s forced to try out amongst all of the other amateurs and join the Baywatch team along with a love interest and a token unfit but funny, nice guy (Jon Bass). The team then undergo an elaborate far-fetched plot that I can barely even recall.
Although it’s cheesy and tacky, it’s incredibly self-aware; all of this is intentional. Zac is made fun of and referred to as ‘High School Musical’ (which is where he found his fame). The slow-motion running, unrealistic bodies and ill-fitting swim suits are in full force, to ridicule and honour the original series. Whereas Baywatch used to be a predominantly male targeted programme for obvious reasons, this reincarnation focuses a lot on the aesthetics of the two main male characters played by Zac and Dwayne. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still bursting with conveniently placed shots of breasts, but things seemed to have evened out slightly.
The music fits extremely well with the tone of the film, which oozes summer fun. The soundtrack really helps merge the old and the new Baywatch, with tunes from the charts today, mixed with songs from the past by Lionel Richie and The Beach Boys. And of course, Baywatch wouldn’t be complete without Pamela Anderson and The Hoff, who make their royal appearance and presumably their seal of approval as they pass the baton to the newbies.
It’s ridiculous and stupid, yet light-hearted and feel-good with plenty of treats for the eyes. Just don’t take it too seriously.
First published in Marketplace Magazine, Bourne.