In a year that has gotten off to a dismal start in terms of good movies, with only a few decent ones at the multiplexes (including “Get Out,” “T2: Trainspotting” and “Colossal”), the biggest dud of all has washed ashore just in time for the holiday weekend. “Baywatch” (Paramount), presented in skin-shaking Dolby, based on the insipid and jiggly NBC series that dominated the 1990s and made the wooden David Hasselhoff a household name, is a waterlogged mess with no means of resuscitation.
Set in Emerald Bay, Florida, lifeguard Mitch (an unfortunate Dwayne Johnson) is well-aware that his job is more involved than just rescuing drowning surfers and children. He has the support of fellow Baywatchers CJ (Kelly Rohrbach, an actress so stilted she makes Pamela Anderson look like Meryl Streep) and Stephanie (Ilfenesh Hadera), but he needs to expand his crew.
Luckily, the time for lifeguard tryouts has arrived. Among those competing for the three coveted spots are; squishy Ronnie (Jon Bass, a second-tier Josh Gad), who has failed to make the cut in the past; perky Summer (Alexandra Daddario); and disgraced Olympic Gold Medalist Matt (Zac Efron at his buffest), aka the Vomit Comet. Ronnie and Summer are eager to prove themselves on the course. Matt, who has the backing of corrupt police chief Thorpe (Rob Huebel), must also pass the test because the Baywatch gig is part of his community service.
Suffice to say, Ronnie, Summer and Matt make the team. In addition to Mitch’s verbal sparring with Matt, he must also keep his beach safe from ruthless real estate magnate and insensitive flakka supplying drug lord Victoria (Priyanka Chopra). As the body count mounts and Mitch has an increasingly hard time getting law enforcement officials to take him seriously, he and his law-abiding lifeguards hatch a plan of their own, which will ultimately include Victoria’s demise by Roman Candle.
If eye candy was the reason you watched the “Baywatch” TV series, then you will find “Baywatch” the movie just as sweet. Efron spends most of the movie shirtless and owes a massive debt of gratitude to genetics and his personal trainer. Johnson, who almost never removes his shirt, doesn’t need to; his clothing fits like a second skin. Additionally, the sexual tension between Mitch and Matt is thick as steroid-enhanced muscle. When Matt refers to Mitch as a “greasy hairless gorilla”, you just know he’s thinking about feeding him his banana. Rating: D-