This R-rated comedy adaptation of the cheesy but sincere beach-set action series -- which somehow became a worldwide phenomenon in the 1990s -- is a movie that should be as enjoyably ridiculous as its source material. In some instances, it is, though it teeters between absurdity and earnestness.
Like the show, it's about an insanely attractive lifeguard crew whose members really throw themselves into their work. Leading the charge is Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, assuming the David Hasselhoff role), a superhero in swim trunks who is always on alert, ensuring that his beach is safe for all who frolic on it. He doesn't have time for showboating pretty-boys — enter Zac Efron's washed-up (figuratively and often literally) Olympic gold medalist Matt Brody, who shows up as a new lifeguard recruit. Johnson and Efron, two men who have discovered they can use their chiseled looks as comic fodder, have a nice, ball-busting chemistry.
There are also, of course, ravishing beauties on this team, including model Kelly Rohrbach, stepping into Pamela Anderson's role as slo-mo-running blonde C.J., and, as the resident brunette, True Detective's Alexandra Daddario (who was hilariously miscast as Johnson's daughter in San Andreas last summer).
As balls-to-the-wall as it gets with both its raunchy material and its explosion-heavy action sequences, Baywatch at times is also as awkwardly sincere as the show once was. Still, Johnson has this movie-star thing down, oozing charisma and self-effacing suavity whenever the camera is aimed at him. He practically carries this movie on his shoulders -- the movie's title literally hovers over him in the opening sequence. No matter how ill-conceived and out-of-whack this flick gets, he wears Baywatch well.