Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson shines again in Baywatch, attracting

The original  Baywatch TV show ran from 1989 to 1999 and introduced the world to slow-mo running, red plastic floats and the mixed pleasures of David Hasselhoff’s acting. The series also turned the beaches of LA County into a hotbed of ludicrous crimes and accidents – we definitely remember an episode called Nightmare Bay involving a rampaging sea monster. So how the heck do you adapt all that into a movie? Well, it turns out you just have to do exactly what the TV show did, but every so often give a knowing wink to the camera as if to say “yeah… we know.”

Dwayne ‘The Rock‘ Johnson is the perfect choice to take The Hoff role as head lifeguard Mitch Buchannon. He’s big, funny and knows the material shouldn’t be taken seriously. Mitch is the loveable local hero – he can barely walk down the beach without someone thanking him for saving someone they know from drowning. This year there are three places on his team up for grabs. They’re soon filled by a surfer called Kelly (Alexandra Daddario), roly poly Ronnie (Jon Bass) (“tell me I’m not the tech guy” he says early on), and finally there’s Matt Brody (Zac Efron) a party animal swimming champion who threw the Olympic relay contest by being sick in the pool.  Baywatch is his chance to redeem himself, and show off his bod of course. He’s in truly ridiculous shape as Johnson’s clueless sidekick, and one of the film’s best sources of humour, with Mitch referring to him as simply NSync, One Direction… or even  High School Musical.

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There’s a big crime plot that’s not that important – it’s just a way of getting between the jet ski chases and punch ups. Basically a businesswoman (Priyanka Chopra) is trying to take over the beachfront real estate market to expand her drug smuggling business. Why a bunch of lifeguards would be cracking that case, rather than the police isn’t missed on the film. A conceit that proves the scriptwriters are smarter than some of the more earthy sketches suggest. There are at two laboured groin-centric sketches. one involving Matt poking around in a dead man’s privates, the other with Ronnie getting his tackle trapped in the slats of a sunbed, which is a reminder of Ben Stiller’s accident in the opening of  There’s Something About Mary.

 Baywatch is still good value. The banter has easy, genial vibe that always raises a chuckle, and there’s heaps of nostalgic fun in seeing so much of what was cheesily wonderful about the TV show updated to the big screen. We did notice at the one-piece red swimsuits now have a gold zipper down the front though. Not very health and safety. The Hoff’s Mitch would disapprove. And if you think he’s going to turn up in an ironic post-credits sequence… well we couldn’t possibly say.

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