I used to be a huge fan of the original TV series of Baywatch (1989 – 1999), fantasising about running (in slo-mo, of course) along a golden sand beach in a skin-tight orangey red one piece, my long locks flowing like silk behind me.
So when the invite came through for the 2017 movie reboot I anticipated huge fun as director Seth Gordon paid loving homage to all those deeply naff stylistic details (soft rock soundtrack, said slo-mo, bouncing bosoms and teeth so white you’d be blinded without sunglasses) that made the series such a guilty pleasure to watch.
Unfortunately, Gordon has decided to ditch all of this comedy gold (not enough slo-mo, nasty neoprene swimsuits) and opts instead for a paint-by-numbers tale of “dedicated old hand showing the new boy the ropes and teaching him some life lessons in the process”.
Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson takes on the David Hasselhoff role of Mitch, the seasoned lifeguard who lives for his work. ‘Pretty boy’ Zak Efron plays Matt, the cocky rookie and one-time Olympic swimmer with his eye on fellow lifeguard Summer (Alexandra Daddario). Although Efron is ridiculously ripped (like a contestant in a Mr Universe competition), he’s at least a foot shorter than Johnson so when standing together they look like Little and Large – which should be funny but is actually a bit sad.
There aren’t many laughs anywhere else for that matter as the plot involving an evil property developer dabbling in drug running (Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra) gets in the way of all those daring lifesaving exercises that made up the bulk of the action in the TV show. So Matt can’t stop ogling Summer’s wobbly breasts, throws up in a swimming pool and is given the kiss of life by Mitch. Who cares. It’s just not funny; it’s not even chuckle-inducing.
But Gordon’s biggest mistake is in throwing away a cameo by the Hoff himself, which is so short you wonder why he bothered to turn up. Meanwhile the magnificent Pammy Anderson is given even shorter shrift as she appears only at the very end, striding across the screen fully clothed without uttering one word.
Baywatch the movie – why bother? Just get hold of the TV series instead.