Baywatch is so juvenile that one wonders how the makers managed to get its amazing cast on board

Wrong. Baywatch, directed by Seth Gordon, is a terrible film. And when I say terrible, I don’t mean your run-of-the-mill bad. I mean soul-sucking bad.  And it doesn’t help that the Indian censors have hacked into it.  The disjointed scenes make even less sense.

The script, by Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, is so juvenile that you wonder how they got all the talent in place – Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron and of course Priyanka Chopra. One of Hindi cinema’s most talented actors is reduced here to purring and hissing, in high heels.  There is nothing for her to bite into.  She doesn’t even get a memorable line.  She’s mostly glaring and saying banal dialogue like: Do I strike you as a patient woman?

The sad part is that there was potential for fun here. The film momentarily comes to life when Johnson and Efron face off.  Johnson is Mitch, the head lifeguard who also doubles up as mentor, life coach and surrogate family. He solemnly declares that Baywatch is more than a job. It’s a way of life. Efron is Matt, a disgraced Olympic swimmer, who starts out as a cocky stud but discovers the pleasures of teamwork.  The funniest moments in the film are when Mitch lobs boy band related insults at Matt.  Johnson is, quite literally, a mountain of charm but this film is so empty and joyless, that even his wide grin can’t save it.

Of course, Baywatch is self-aware and self-mocking.  In one scene, Matt says ‘It sounds like a really entertaining but far-fetched TV show.’  But the writers don’t take the spoofing far enough. David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson, who became global icons with the TV show, also make an appearance. I have to admit – I felt a little sorry for them.

Nobody walks away from this train-wreck with dignity.  I hope Priyanka finds Hollywood material that matches her skills.

Rating:   star

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