Remake culture strikes another iconic (for probably all the wrong reasons) television show-turn-comedy off the ever-shrinking list as Baywatch unites Dwayne Johnston and Zac Efron with bikinis and capers galore. Does it work? Lee and Maria review.
Really fucking funny. Loved looking at the sexy men and women. A++ film of the year.
Meandering, inconsistent, tonally jarring, middle of the road, bottom of the barrel, self-writing, self-foregone comedy experiences like Baywatch don’t need critical appraisal to get their kicks. Gross-out comedy doesn’t need your approval; in fact, the more disapproval the better. So it’s perhaps a loss that Baywatch isn’t nearly awful enough?
Most of this fault comes down to the film’s attractive cast, almost all of whom are fairly likeable even for template characters. Straightforward man’s man The Rock plays his straight-man role like a straight-man should, and by this point is well seasoned in spearheading dumb, loud concept comedies. Zac Efron continues to play remorseful-yet-generally-unrelatable frat-boy roles well and his comic timing and stomach for terrible, career-punishing scenes impresses yet again. The remainder of the roster do their jobs well and have more energy to them than their positions really demand, so yet more cons in the shape of pros.
A fun story doesn’t help anything, one that ribs the old format of the original show just enough to alert unfamiliar viewers without becoming distracting. Goofy Saturday morning cartoon villains do little harm in their short screentime and, yes, the gross-out humour can be genuinely funny at times, and even occasionally inventive – no foul play reaping laughs from the morgue.
Unsurprisingly though, the gross-out elements are the real issue here, though not in that they’re not well-done but in that they invite a tone of lawlessness to a film that otherwise feels pretty much at home with a 12-years-and-up rating, feeling more akin to a classic Schwarzenegger action-comedy than the average Seth Rogen release. A saccharine story with plenty of predictable, often sweet moments keeps the tonal discord of the original show in mind and scores points for faithful updating, but otherwise leaves much of the film feeling dreadfully dull as you wait for the funny bits to kick back in again.
So it’s a mixed bag, but not one that can be readily dismissed. If you’re in the mood for a genuinely funny comedy that really isn’t likely to offend anyone but the stiffest of bores, have at it. Just don’t expect to have fun the entire time or to crave a re-watch somewhere down the line, and certainly don’t rush out to catch it in theatres. Let’s call it a fittingly flawed send-up to a charmingly flawed gem from the past and leave it at that.