Baywatch: resurrection of a 90s fantasy

Baywatch: resurrection of a 90s fantasy

English (A) ***
Cast: Dwayne Johnson,
Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario and
Kelly Rohrbach
Director: Seth Gordon

Many today would have forgotten Pamela Anderson running in slow motion across the beach in a tightly fitting red bikini. Then again, given that the run had helped make the show one of the most watched in the world, there would be many who have forgotten not her or her run. The original Baywatch TV series had run from 1989 to 99, and was a much beloved show, despite being booed by critics. However, the “jiggle culture” that it helped popularise had caught the attention of critic and common man alike.
In an attempt to prove that “jiggle culture” is not a thing of the past, director Seth Gordon resurrects the classic to a moderate degree of success. It has a special treat for Indian movie-goers: it has our very own Priyanka Chopra in it.
The most prominent leitmotif in the film, overshadowing any theme running through the film (though there are none), is beautiful people — both men and women — showcasing their glorious bodies on a beach.
The audience is invited to ogle Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario and Kelly Rohrbach.
The plot revolves around Mitch Buchannon (Johnson), who has achieved a quasi-superhero status as a lifeguard on his beach. He is recruiting people for his high-profile team, and (unrealistically) the try-out turns out to be like a festival. Three people get selected for the team — the bright and chirpy Summer Quinn (Alexandra), the ever-cocky-but-good-at-heart Efron, and the physically unfit Ronnie (Jon Bass), who is chosen merely because of the director’s need for comic relief.
Together, they track down a drug racket run by Priyanka Chopra. While Priyanka’s character, Victoria Leeds, is no Don Corleone, and she barely gets enough screen time, for an Indian actor to be arch villain to Johnson and Efron seems impressive. Some of her lines are pretty good, too: when Efron calls her crazy at one point, she says “if I was a man, you’d call me driven”.
Do not expect anything strikingly original from Baywatch. It is a cliched cheesy, sexy, romantic, action comedy because it is catering to an audience that demands that and not originality. It is not Citizen Kane because it never wanted to be.

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