Thursday, June 1, 2017

[Review] Baywatch

Lather up the sunscreen and get your slow-motion jogs ready, because it's Baywatchin' time!

Leading the esteemed crew of lifeguards is the extremely charismatic Mitch (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson). If he hasn't saved your life before, he's saved someone that you know. Things get shaken up when he reluctantly teams with a shallow olympic gold medalist (played by Zac Efron), who's basically a parody of Ryan Lochte. Scratch that - he's less of a parody and more of a realistic rendition of him. Also on deck is Alexandria Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, Ilfenesh Hadera, and Jon Bass (whose character should've been axed, if you ask me). Anyway, when drugs begin washing ashore and a criminal syndicate (led by Priyanka Chopra) starts leaving their tracks across the beach, the Baywatch crew must dive into an investigation that isn't listed in their job description.

It isn't on the level of the Jump Street series, but Baywatch is still full of meta-humor, evenly dispersed boner and boob jokes, and an overall self-reflexive ridiculousness, even drawing attention to how nuts the source material is, as well as the movie itself. One of my favorites is the running gag where The Rock refuses to call Efron's character by his actual name and instead opts for Boy Band references. At the onset, it isn't the most inspired gag around, but it pays off with chuckles when The Rock eventually lands on "Hey, High School Musical!" because, you know, Efron was actually in that.

With that said, there is A LOT of awful dialogue to put up with along the way (I won't repeat it). But for every few bad lines, there's always at least one dynamite one, like when The Rock says "I'm bigger... and browner" after someone asks if he's Batman. (Love that.) And speaking of The Rock's character, you'd expect this raunchy summer comedy to draw him as a charged-up playboy surrounded by bikinis, but the film interestingly never goes that route. In fact, his sexuality is kept pretty ambiguous here. What's also surprising is Eric Steelberg's sneaky-good cinematography (he has some solid titles under his belt, including Juno, 500 Days of Summer, and Up in the Air). The golden-rayed coastlines here are rendered with a tinted gloss that makes it seem as if you're watching the film with sunglasses on (fittingly). On the other side of things, the film's special effects barely appear to be a step above Sharknado, which is kind of funny in and of itself. The soundtrack also flaunts some great tunes from Vince Staples and Run The Jewels to The Beach Boys and The Bee Gees.

Baywatch boils down to a fun, if unoriginal crime-stopping mission. Of course it isn't going to win any Oscars, and some stretches of the film flop and sink, but what other movie can you hear the future President of the United States Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson yell "I'm oceanic, motherfucker!" before saving the day.

( 7/10 )

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