Back in 1989, an odd and rather dramatic show made its way to television. Baywatch was set on a typical California beach, centering on a team of lifeguards who have sworn to protect it and all of its patrons. The show, starring David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson, sought out to answer a very important question: What would happen if you put a group of very attractive people in red swimwear and had them save other attractive people from ocean-related death?
Baywatch answered that question with: slow motion, explosions and a whole lot of sexual innuendos.
Now, 28 years later, a new Baywatch beach team has risen — with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as lieutenant lifeguard Mitch Buchannon (the role originated by Hasselhoff) — asking the same question and providing an extremely similar answer!
The Baywatch movie centers around Mitch dealing with an unwelcome new member of his team — medal-winning Olympic swimmer and showboat Matt Brody (Zac Efron in the movie, taking over from David Charvet) — all the while trying to uncover a secret drug trafficking operation on the beach.
Many fans wondered whether it was necessary to bring Baywatch into the modern age, but the film acknowledges its predecessor in many fun ways. Here are a few clear homages to the original dramatic TV series:
The Super Slow-Mo
One thing that the Baywatch series is really well-known for is the slow motion. Whenever the show's cast rescued a beachgoer (or if they were on their routine morning jog), a sensual theme would play as they proceeded to make their way across the beach bay, milliseconds at a time. The show's excessive pressing of the "slow-mo" button has made its way to the movie in full; Johnson and his crew run, swim and jet ski several times at a snail's pace.
Another staple of the Baywatch franchise is ridiculous action sequences. You think you've seen extreme measures? Just wait until you see the Rock saving a group of intoxicated partygoers on a fiery boat by swimming under the fire and throwing them off one by one!
The show had its fair share of impressive action as well. Who could forget the time Hasselhoff took on professional martial artist Loren Avedon in an illegal underground fighting ring? Here it is in YouTube form for us all to enjoy:
The best way to honor the past is to bring it to the present. Baywatch does this by featuring a handful of awesome, and spoilery (you've been warned) cameos. Up to its release, Baywatch has presented itself as a modern retelling of the original series, with the same characters and setting just brought into the future.
However, as it turns out, the film actually exists in the same universe as the show. The movie shows this by featuring a cameo from "The Hoff" himself. That's right, David Hasselhoff returns as Mitch Buchannon, Hawaii division Baywatch Lieutenant and mentor to The Rock's character ... who is also somehow named Mitch Buchannon. Hooray for coincidence?
Despite that very strange plot thread, Haselhoff's cameo is pretty cool and a great way to honor the show. Baywatch does this again during the end of the movie by featuring an appearance from Pamela Anderson, who original fans will recognize as the "slow-mo" queen C.J. Walker.
The cameos aren't the only direct links to the original series that Baywatch has to offer. The film also has number of references to episodes of the show. These references are shown most prominently in a scene where Mitch is addressing the rest of his team on just what it is they do to protect their beach.
Buchannon proceeds to list off several different scenarios that he feels fall under lifeguard jurisdiction, including one in which diamond smugglers strap diamonds under surfboards to dodge suspicion. There's even a bit of tongue-in-cheek self-loathing as Zac Efron's character describes Buchannon's rambling as sounding like a "really entertaining but far-fetched TV show".
Ultimately, Baywatch suffers from a very predictable and familiar plot, one that fans of the 21 Jump Street reboot will instantly recognize. But it's not a terrible movie. It's full of laughs, incredible performances and chemistry from Johnson and Efron, and lots of love for the series that made it possible!
What do you think of Baywatch? Did you enjoy the film? Sound off with your opinion in the comments below!