Credit: Paramount Pictures
I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t sure what to think about a month ago when my wife said she wanted to see the Baywatch movie. I know we both like bad movies, and my mind shifted over the course of the next week to “sure, why not?” It’s been out in theaters for maybe a month now, and last night, on a rainy one here in Taipei, Taiwan, we decided to go all-out all-American, so we went to Chili’s and then in the very same shopping mall went to see Baywatch, in the foreigner neighborhood of Taipei, no less. The film, itself, was very funny, but the funniest thing about it is that it wasn’t bad at all, I’d actually—legitimately—call it a good movie.
Now, it’s no Citizen Kane, I mean, we’re not going to sing it an Oscar song or anything, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see it sneak away with one for some random category, but it was a delightfully well executed film.
For those who may not be familiar, Baywatch was the quintessential cheesy 1990s American show about a bunch of lifeguards who for some reason are also cops who for some reason are also detectives and occasionally have guns. Nobody quite knows why, it’s entirely infeasible, and it was kind of a joke but at the same time everyone loved it back then. Maybe we still had a sense of irony. But, it’s this sense of irony that the film itself plays on, noting several times that the very concept itself is ridiculous and bringing two of the original stars, David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson, back for cameos.
Now, for those who are familiar, you’re going to absolutely love it, I’d almost promise, but I don’t know you personally. If you like Baywatch, or even comedies revolving around the beach in general, you’re going to laugh for about two hours. The film introduces you to Mitch, a buff lifeguard played by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, who for some reason is called ‘lieutenant’, even though he’s a lifeguard. The comedy revolves around him taking his job way out of bounds in an attempt to bust a drug smuggling ring involving multiple homicides on his beach. The police involved note time and time again that he’s a lifeguard, a fact which he ignores and smooth-talks his way out of time and time again.
Speaking of talk, even if the plot doesn’t appeal to you, the young recruit from Iowa that Mitch is trying to break down and rebuild is played by Zac Efron, so if for no other reason, you can go to watch The Rock fluidly improv insults at Zac Efron for two hours.
Overall, the film is a total self-acknowledging camp film filled with major laughs and a lot of over-the-top action. Whether or not you’re a fan of the original series, and I think we were all just half-fans back then, it’s highly likely that you’re going to spend the entire film laughing from the moment the title screen explodes out of the water, dolphins jumping, to the slow-motion run down the beach at the end.
- Todd Allen Williams, Senior Editor