Baywatch (2 stars)

Baywatch

Knowing take on the TV series begins promisingly and then takes a dive

'Am I the only one that thinks this is clearly a job for the police?' whines an incredulous Matt Brody (Zac Efron) as he accompanies his fellow lifeguards on an investigation way outside their purview. Aping the meta lunacy of the standard-bearing Jump Street movies, this tongue-in-cheek take on the popular TV show pokes fun at the preposterous and overreaching exploits of The Hoff, Pammie et al – a gag that's made ad nauseum.

Directed by Horrible Bosses' Seth Gordon, it stars Dwayne Johnson as devoted Emerald Bay life-saver Mitch Buchannon who enjoys near-mythical status amongst locals. He reluctantly recruits Efron's bad boy swimmer, a disgraced champion ordered to join Mitch's team as a form of community service. Alexandra Daddario and Kelly Rohrbach are his flesh-flashing colleagues Summer and CJ, Jon Bass is the tongue-tied Ronnie paralysed by his crush on the latter, and Bollywood and Quantico star Priyanka Chopra plays sultry villainess Victoria Leeds, a woman up to her neck in drugs and dodgy property deals.

There are plenty of good jokes here and, unsurprisingly, the big screen Baywatch delivers amply on bouncing bosoms, with balance of sorts provided by knob jokes and absurd abs. Sadly, however histrionic the rescues, anonymous individuals nearly drowning doesn't exactly make for scintillating cinema. There are attempts to ape the camaraderie and soap opera-style shenanigans of the series – the film hastily pairs off its characters for example – yet there's scant time to get to know an ensemble who are likeable if not especially personable.

Both Efron and Johnson have shown some comedy chops when they've been able to bounce off more accomplished performers (Johnson with Kevin Hart in Central Intelligence, Efron with Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen in the Bad Neighbours films) but the pair are a little at sea here. And the excessive runtime, repetitive antics, cringeworthy cameos and tediously formulaic denouement means that a film that feels like a fun splash-about at the outset is itself in dire need of rescue by the end.

General release from Mon 29 May.

Baywatch

  • 2 stars
  • 2017
  • US
  • 116 min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Seth Gordon
  • Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Alexandra Daddario, Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra, Kelly Rohrbach, Ilfenesh Hadera
  • UK release: 29 May 2017

Mitch (Johnson) is a devoted life-saver who reluctantly recruits Matt (Efron), a disgraced champion who’s only doing it as a kind of community service. Plenty of good jokes, but minor characters almost drowning doesn’t make for good cinema, and the relentless formulaism makes it long outstay its welcome.

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