Silly moves on the dance floor and an over-zealous soundtrack cannot save this film 

version of the iconic TV series.


Ilfenesh Hadera and a surprised Alexandra Daddario


In theory, the concept could’ve worked a treat. Imagine it: the iconic 1989-2001 TV series updated for a more permissive era. And with none other than Dwayne Johnson filling the Bermuda shorts of David Hasselhoff. Throw in a rival six-pack supplied by Zac Efron and you know the female demographic will be catered for. In fact, there’s plenty of skimpy swimwear for both genders, which, melded to a more ironic take on the cheesiness of the whole thing should’ve reaped comedic dividends. But there’s only so many shots of a female lifeguard in slow motion that one movie can take. Or, for that matter, the number of times that The Rock can say “ball sack”.


The Rock takes over from The Hoff as the conscientious and courageous lifeguard Mitch Buchannon on Emerald Bay in Florida (replacing the original beach in Malibu). He takes his job extremely seriously and sees “the Baywatch” as more of a way of life than as a job. So when a pretty newcomer with two Olympic gold medals muscles in on his territory, Mitch believes the guy should prove himself before getting the gig. For comic contrast there’s Ronnie (Jon Bass), a slack-bellied, largely inarticulate contender who all the girls love for being gauche and perpetually aroused. And while the newbies compete for a job on the sand, a dastardly plot is afoot to pedal drugs and infiltrate the retail market of the beachfront.


Zac Efron, the once promising star of High School Musical, Hairspray and Me and Orson Welles, is currently on something of a losing streak. His last three films, Dirty Grandpa, Bad Neighbours 2 and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, all earned one star reviews on this website. And Film Review Daily is a benevolent mouthpiece. But when a film this lazy, crude, unimaginative and sloppy comes along, one can but lose the will to swim.


When Zac’s Olympian strives to reveal his team spirit, he crows, “there’s no ‘i’ in team, but there is a ‘me.’” To which his interviewer replies, “Are you dyslexic?” And he responds, “no, I’m Caucasian.” And that’s the funniest line in the movie. Efron has become seasoned at lampooning his once squeaky-clean image and here he’s even dubbed “High School Musical” by Mitch Buchanan. Which is an odd thing to say. More problematic is Alexandra Daddario as Efron’s love interest, an actress whose default expression is one of perpetual surprise. It does become an irritant, but not as much as the heavy-handed soundtrack, dumb cameo appearances and interminable reaction shots.




Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, Jon Bass, Ilfenesh Hadera, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Rob Huebel, David Hasselhoff, Pamela Anderson.


Dir Seth Gordon, Pro Ivan Reitman, Michael Berk, Douglas Schwartz, Gregory J. Bonann and Beau Flynn, Ex Pro Dwayne Johnson, Screenplay Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, from a story by Jay Scherick, David Ronn, Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant, Ph Eric Steelberg, Pro Des Shepherd Frankel, Ed Peter S. Elliot, Music Christopher Lennertz, Costumes Dayna Pink.


Paramount Pictures/Contrafilm/The Montecito Picture Company/Vinson Pictures/Seven Bucks Productions/Flynn Company/Cold Spring Pictures-Paramount Pictures.

116 mins. USA. 2017. Rel: 29 May 2017. Cert. 15.