Possible spoilers ahead!
“Baywatch” introduces viewers to Emerald Bay’s elite team lifeguards led by lieutenant Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson), his second in command, Stephanie Holden (Ilfenesh Hadera), and fellow veteran lifeguard, C.J. Parker (Kelly Rohrbach).
To fill out the lifeguard positions for the summer, Mitch brings in three rookie trainees to the lifeguard program: young local surfer Summer Quinn (Alexandra Daddario); the awkward but lovable Ronnie Greenbaum (Jon Bass); and the disgraced two-time Olympic gold medal winner Matt Brody (Zac Efron).
Not long after the new team forms, they begin to investigate the rise in drug activity on their beach. The investigation leads the Baywatch crew to the new owner of the expensive beachfront resort The Huntley Club, Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra). Things then escalate when the body of a local politician washes up on the beach. But when Mitch and his team aren’t taken seriously by the police, especially beach beat cop Ellerbee (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), it’s up to Baywatch to save the day and their beloved beach.
After reading the reviews, and looking at the box office performance, I did not have high hopes for “Baywatch.” But maybe that was a good thing, because despite several flaws, I thought “Baywatch” was a rather amusing R rated comedy.
Don’t get me wrong, “Baywatch” is not what I would call a great flick, I could have done without the requisite over the top penis and boob jokes for one thing. To tell you the truth, “Baywatch” is not even the funniest movie I’ve seen this year. But I also don’t think the movie deserved the critical beating it got when it came out earlier this summer.
There were plenty of moments throughout “Baywatch” that made laugh, like Dwayne Johnson’s refusal to call Matt Brody by his real name, or C.J’s teasing of Ronnie. Actually, some of the funniest moments include the nerdy Ronnie. Not the getting stuck in a table bit, that was unnecessary. But his dance at the resort party, or his reaction when C.J. kisses him were pretty funny.
I thought Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron were well matched, and played well off each other. Both guys are charming, and gave their character more than what was on the script. Then again, the People’s Champion is great in everything. Meanwhile, Efron play a really good selfish and arrogant guy.
The brightest spot for me in “Baywatch” was Kelly Rohrbach as C. J. Parker. I liked what she did with the character, she never played C.J. as dim-witted, or just eye candy. This version of the character is playful, but all business when she needs to be. And I actually bought that this C.J. would fall for a guy like Ronnie.
The only weakness in the cast was Priyanka Chopra’s villain. Chopra is a good actress, and she can handle a heavy dose of action. But her character in “Baywatch is a basic, and without any depth whatsoever. I still don’t know what her motivation was, or even is she was a drug dealer or just after real estate. Either way, her motivations deserved more detail, and Chopra deserved a better script.
There’s some really good stuff in “Baywatch,” but silly humor and a bad plot muddle things too much. I still think there’s potential with this brand and a good movie in here somewhere. But at the end of the day, the filmmakers seemed more concerned with capitalizing on the film’s R-rating, rather than playing to the strengths of its talented cast.
“Baywatch” finals score: C-