Plot: Splash a-ah, Saviour of the the beach-goers
Basically the plot of Baywatch is Mitch Buchannon (The Rock) and his side-kick Stephanie (Ilfenesh Hadera) are looking for a new Baywatch team and then there’s some corruption and some investigation and a bit of action and a little romance at the end. Most of that is fleshed out more but caring about the plot in Baywatch is like reading Playboy for the articles.
The adjective I would most closely associate with the Baywatch movie is ‘fine’ because that is what it is. It is completely fine, utterly satisfactory, definitively adequate. You could do a check-list of what it had to do and it would complete it perfectly well: cameos from the old stars of the show, check; an abundance of people half-naked/ in swimsuits, especially Zac Efron and the Rock, check; an over-the top plot line leading to an ultimately anti-climactic finale, check; dumb but entertaining anatomy jokes, checked checked and triple-checked.
The characters are pretty much as you would expect. The Rock saves some people and essentially plays an over the top version of himself. Zac Efron is definitely not an off-brand Ryan Lochte. The female characters are also there, their main purpose being to back up the main male characters jokes and set pieces. It seems pretty clear that all of them are written in an attempt of ‘strong female characters’ it’s just a shame they all happen to be the same ‘strong female character’. As an actual character Ronnie probably has the most depth to him as the pathetic but sweet new recruit who has the best jokes and punchlines throughout the film.
One thing that did worry me when going in was the objectification levels but I was pleasantly surprised with the movie in this regard. It is in the nature of Baywatch that pretty much everyone is scantily clad throughout and a fair amount of the tickets sold will definitively be down to the promise of seeing top-tier actors semi-unclothed (Zac Efron has built most of his career out of those sales). Pleasantly the film manages to avoid the grim trope of naked women with fully clothed men though and has equal opportunities objectification which is fine in my book.
What really won me over though in Baywatch is how consistently I laughed throughout whether at the gross out humour, in my mind peaking at the early sequences of Ronnie’s poor attempts at seduction or at the references poking fun at the original show. As a comedy I think it is perfectly functional but this is less true of it as an actioner where the plot and set pieces are generally bland and unmemorable.
On the whole with Baywatch I would say it’s a fine way to spend a couple of hours if you want some not-too-difficult entertainment.