Blu-ray Review: ‘Baywatch’

Review by James McDonald

Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron’s “Baywatch” is not even remotely close to David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson’s “Baywatch.” While the Hoff’s TV creation was a ratings juggernaut, the movie takes that premise, a group of attractive lifeguards who patrol a crowded recreational beach, and turns it from a PG-rated TV show, into a hard “R”-rated movie, and makes it work. I never cared for the show, I think in my lifetime, I might have watched one episode and when I saw the first trailer for the film, just like the show, it did nothing for me, even though I like the talented cast involved. But it was only after I watched the Red Band trailer, that I found myself laughing out loud, and based on that alone, I decided to give the movie a shot. And I’m so glad I did because I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time. You have to remember, I grew up in the ’70s and ’80s, watching “R”-rated films like the “Porky’s” trilogy, “Screwballs 1 & 2,” and “The Last American Virgin,” to name just a few but once the ’90s arrived, and the ’80s became a fading memory, the humor associated with such movies faded too, and the world became more politically correct. Thank God the new “Baywatch” throws everything PC right out the window and reverts to the crude and obscene humor from the ’80s, so if you’re easily offended, stay home and shut the hell up!

The film is basically everything the show encompassed; beautiful, hot and toned bodies, danger, sex, and redemption. I know, not exactly what you were hoping for in a hard “R”-rated film but believe me, in the overall context of the story, it all comes together perfectly and works. Zac Efron plays Matt Brody, a disgraced former Olympic swimmer who is assigned to the Baywatch lifeguard squad as part of a probation deal, much to the chagrin of the group’s leader, Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson). Matt is not the brightest light in the harbor and is a few fries short of a Happy Meal but when Mitch and his squad are called to an emergency, Matt is hell-bent on proving himself to Mitch so he hops on a motorbike, gets ahead of the lifeguards and almost runs over an entire pier full of people, before smashing the bike into a wall, and somersaulting into the water. With Matt’s antics bringing unnecessary attention to Mitch and his crew, Mitch gives him his walking papers but when Matt apologizes, and realizes that this is the only family he has, Mitch decides to give him another chance to prove himself. Mitch has a hunch that Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra), a local businesswoman, is actually a criminal mastermind, running a drug trafficking operation and with the help of his team, they must discover what her plans for the bay are, before it’s too late.

Conventional plot? Absolutely! One-dimensional characters? Yessiree Bob! Stupid as hell? You betcha! Funny? Probably the funniest movie I have seen in some time. It works because director Seth Gordon (“Identity Thief,” “Horrible Bosses”) throws absolutely everything at you and half the time, you’re not expecting what you’re seeing to be funny, but in fact, it ends up being the funniest scene in the film. And believe me, in an almost two-hour story, that is a lot of funny. Dwayne Johnson plays his usual big, muscular, take-no-shit from anybody character, but the real surprise here is Zac Efron. He takes the dumb blonde moniker from every dumb blonde you’ve ever seen, and makes it his own. And proudly owns it. Some of the things he says and does literally make you want to slap the stupid out of him but that would take all week. He is so caught up in his glorious, accolade-filled past, that he can’t get past the two gold Olympic medals he wears around his neck at all times. The rest of the cast do surprisingly well in their roles and by the end of the movie, you find yourself rooting for them, even though there was never any real danger, and if there was, you didn’t pick up on it as you were too busy laughing at everything else. Naturally, both David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson make shameless cameos, and while I could have personally done without them, I’m sure their appearances will satisfy the most hardcore, diehard fans. If there are any left.

Available on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Combo Packs August 29th and on Digital HD now.

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