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It’s been 16 years since Mitch Buchanan and his merry band of lifeguards ruled the beach. But never fear, nearly two decades after Baywatch became the most-watched television show in the world with 1.1 billion viewers, director Seth Gordon pays homage to the original cast with similar names but all new faces led by Dwayne Johnson.
Baywatch is everything that you expect a summer movie to be. Cheesy? Check. Silly? Check. Stupid? Check. Too long? Check. Entertaining? Absolutely. Baywatch is a tongue-in-cheek movie that knows it place in movie history; a history that most likely gives Johnson yet another winning movie franchise. Had anyone told me that “The Rock” would one day go on to be one of the most bankable and dependable movie stars in Hollywood and possibly a presidential candidate, I would have slapped you silly.
The movie adaption of the hit show finds the Emerald Bay lifeguards recruiting for three new additions, including the sudden arrival of two-time Olympic gold medalist, Matt Brody, played by the ridiculously ripped Zac Efron. Cocky and conceited, Brody feels he is owed a spot due to his Olympic success and the Captain (Rob Huebel) sees it as a great PR move to enhance the image of the beach patrol. Joining Brody at tryouts are Summer Quinn (Alexandra Daddario, who reunites with Johnson after first starring together in San Andreas) and Ronnie Greenbaum (Jon Bass), an overweight but ambitious kid who has twice been unsuccessful in his quest to become a lifeguard.
Once the gang’s all together, we’re thrust into the thick of the plot when drugs wash up on the beach, followed by dead bodies. Never one to leave things alone, Buchanan suspects the new owner of a chic hotel, Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra). And so begins the caper for Buchanan and his Scooby gang to expose Leeds as the mastermind before more damage to the beach can be done.
Baywatch is a fun movie with the bulk of the humor carried by Johnson and Bass’s Ronnie. Johnson’s nicknames for Brody are priceless and he and Efron share great chemistry, especially during a hilarious scene in the morgue. Ronnie, though, steals nearly every scene he is in, from his initial intimidation of the beautiful CJ (Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kelly Rohrbach whose slo-mo scenes rival that of original CJ Pamela Anderson) and subsequent lounge chair accident to his eventual overconfidence with CJ. Johnson also gets his fair share of action scenes, with the best one occurring in a kid’s room.
If you’re looking for fleshed out character development, look elsewhere as you’re more likely to find flesh than fleshed out here. Outside of Efron’s Brody, we don’t learn much about any of these characters, especially Summer who seems to simply be an object for Brody to lust after. In his defense, she does have the most captivating eyes to go along with a flawless face and body. But let’s be honest, this isn’t Shakespeare. Perhaps most disappointing is the poor execution of cameos by David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson. The weak roles for these two combined with the lack of other former Baywatch stars leaves you wondering what could have been had they written the roles better and perhaps left these cameos as surprises.
At the end of the day, however, Baywatch delivers with a movie that never takes itself too seriously and provides many laughs from the opening scene to the requisite blooper reel during the credits. Turn off your brain and enjoy the surf.

Baywatch is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: Mark Eaton
Mark is an entertainment junkie, spending much of his leisure time watching movies, TV, or listening to any and all genres of music. Most evenings, after finishing a day of work and hanging with his wife and kids, Mark can be found in an eternal battle with his DVR, trying to clear it before another 5-6 hours of shows are recorded the next day. Still reeling from his unpaid gig for the Detroit News where he was fired for being too cruel with his American Idol recaps, Mark is thrilled to be sharing his wicked sense of humor with Movie Reelists.

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