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dir Seth Gordon
scr Damian Shannon, Mark Swift
prd Michael Berk, Gregory J Bonann, Beau Flynn, Ivan Reitman, Douglas Schwartz
with Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, Ilfenesh Hadera, Jon Bass, Hannibal Buress, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Rob Huebel, David Hasselhoff, Pamela Anderson
release US 25.May.17, UK 29.May.17
17/US Paramount 1h56
To the rescue: Hadera, Johnson and Efron
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
It's a real problem that this pastiche action-comedy has a plot that's even more idiotic than the corny TV show it's re-creating. To make an enjoyably silly movie you need a very intelligent screenplay, but this film instead rides along on the effortless charm of Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron while packing scenes with extended gags of the cheapest and easiest variety.
The lifeguard team at Emerald Bay is headed up by hotshot muscleman Mitch (Johnson), whose team includes under-appreciated Stephanie (Hadera) and buxom vixen CJ (Rohrbach). And they now have three new recruits: swaggering Olympic swimmer Matt (Efron), sassy babe Summer (Daddario) and dorky nerd Ronnie (Bass). As the rookies complete their training, various calamities on the beach lead Mitch to suspect that local hotelier Victoria (Chopra) is not only smuggling drugs, but also extorting and even murdering politicians and businessmen to take over the beach. But can the team prove it?
What follows is a series of over-the-top undercover missions in which the lifeguards try to solve this case without the help of the police. This absurdity is something Matt constantly notes, as does local beat cop Ellerbee (Abdul-Mateen), but Mitch carries on playing detective. The self-awareness is good for a chuckle, but the script never takes the idea anywhere, merely recycling the same painfully lazy plot over and over again.
The only thing that holds the attention is the silly interaction between Johnson and Efron, both of whom gamely allow themselves to look ridiculous even as they strike each muscle-bound pose. They also add a good-natured flirtation to the script's relentlessly homophobic comedy, which centres mainly on male genitalia. The women in the cast have quite a bit of fun with their thinly written roles, adding a sense of knowing irony to their revealing outfits, although the overwhelmingly leery atmosphere somewhat undermines this.
It's a shame that the filmmakers couldn't think of something clever to do with this, because the TV series is ripe for action-comedy movie treatment (see Charlie's Angels or 21 Jump Street). At there are continual nods to the original series, offering a loving homage while also having a laugh at the show's expense. The presence of Hasselhoff and Anderson in cameos is good for a smile, but even these are under-imagined. So while there may be a few solid laughs, the movie just never works as a comedy, thriller or trip down memory lane.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S
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© 2017 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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