In the matter of “Baywatch,” expectations are the key. Keep them low.
Considering that its source is the silly TV series trafficking in surf, sand and fit bronzed bodies clad in revealing swimwear, that’s not hard to do.
Keep those expectations low, and the movie derived from this pop-culture artifact is passably enjoyable.
The surf is sparkling, the sand looks soft and the bodies are beyond buff, particularly the bods of Dwayne Johnson, complexly tatted, and ultraparticularly that of Zac Efron, whose six-pack abs somehow seem to have metamorphosed into a freakily defined 12-pack.
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And the women aren’t bad either, with director Seth Gordon having apparently decided to shoot this epic in Ogle-Vision, the better to emphasize cleavage and derrieres. Scenery!
Johnson plays the big cheese leader of the Baywatch band of lifeguards. Efron’s character is an insufferably narcissistic Olympic-medal-winnning hotshot whose hard-partying ways have earned him the sobriquet Vomit Comet (bad form to puke in the pool during the relay race) and the punishment of being ordered to lifeguard duty as community service.
He’s mouthy and cocky and needs to be repeatedly taken down a peg or 10 by Johnson’s character, derisively disses him with nicknames such as “NSYNC,” “Malibu Ken” and “High School Musical” (that one really hurts).
It’s all by way of instructing Mr. Go It Alone that he’ll need a major attitude adjustment if he wants to become part of the elite Baywatch lifeguard team.
Of the women, a lifeguard-in-training played by Alexandra Daddario comes well-armed with withering putdowns of Efron’s lecherous Lothario.
Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kelly Rohrbach is a sunny presence with the blondest hair and whitest teeth, repeatedly filmed walking toward the camera in slow motion, looking — and walking — like the second coming of original Baywatcher Pamela Anderson (who has the briefest of cameos at the end).
Onscreen also in some longer scenes is Anderson’s co-star David Hasselhoff, looking quite well-preserved in a “Return of the Mummy” sort of way.
The plot has the Baywatchers rescuing drowning people, dispensing helpful lifesaving tips and tangling with a drug-smuggling villainess played by Priyanka Chopra.
Chases, explosions, gunplay and fistfights ensue. Several raunchy sight gags centered on male genitalia earn the picture its R rating.
It’s all just a day at the beach, harmlessly fun and instantly forgettable.
☆☆ stars out of 5
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach.
Director: Seth Gordon.
Running time: 1:59.
Rated: R for language throughout, crude sexual content, and graphic nudity.