Movie News & Reviews

Not even Dwayne Johnson can rescue ‘Baywatch’

Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron in “Baywatch.”
Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron in “Baywatch.” Paramount Pictures

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has so much charisma it can be seen from space. His charisma should be considered a national resource and channeled to power homes and solve world hunger. Shockingly, The Rock’s charisma just can’t save everything.

One would think that the combination of Johnson and the sweet, dumb himbo charms of Zac Efron could cause a cinematic nuclear reaction, as it seemed throughout the production and marketing of the big screen take on the iconic ‘90s show. But what ends up on the screen, after months of anticipation, is just a mess. Poorly edited, terribly written and tonally all over the place, “Baywatch” squanders all of its potential for some corny, sexy throwback fun.

Johnson steps into the red swim trunks made famous by David Hasselhoff as Mitch, lifeguard extraordinaire.

Efron is disgraced Olympic swimmer Matt Brody, a pretty Ryan Lochte-type bad boy, with the tragic blonde highlights to prove it. Police Captain Thorpe (Rob Huebel) assigns the Olympian to the lifeguard team as a PR stunt, a fulfillment of his community service hours after a mystery plea deal. The contentious duo learn to be a team through many ocean-based rescues, boy-band nicknames, gay panic and light-hearted corpse desecration.

This bombastic reboot, directed incompetently by Seth Gordon, is held together with nothing more than hopes, dreams and neoprene, and inevitably, all of those systems fail.

“Baywatch” is fun when it’s poking fun at its origins, citing outlandish plots from the original show and calling attention to references and formulas. During the bonkers crazy climax, Brody utters, “that sounds complicated… and cheesy!” It’s supposed to make fun of the show’s formula, but comes off like an indictment of the very thing in which he’s starring.

Baywatch

1/2

Rated: R for language throughout, crude sexual content, and graphic nudity. Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario. Director: Seth Gordon. Running time: 116 minutes. Theaters: Edwards 21, Edwards 9, Edwards 14, Edwards 12, Majestic 18, Village Cinema.

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