Director: Seth Gordon
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Priyanka Chopra, Kelly Rohrbach, Ilfenesh Hadera, Jon Bass
Slow motion running? Check. Sexy lifeguards? Check. A soundtrack to rival ’22 Jump Street’? Check.
I’ll hold my hands up and say that I wasn’t ever really excited for this film. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge comedy fan, but as Patrick mentioned in his brilliantly worded article, comedy just seems to have lost it’s mojo over recent years, and they’ve become rather predictable. I watched the first 2 trailers and thought they look ‘okay’ and something that would give me a few laughs. I avoided the red band trailer, as that’s when the marketing team for some reason decide to show off the best gags of the film and leave you disappointed in the cinema expecting more of the same.
Right from the word go the film’s title sequence makes sure to set you up for what to expect for the next 2 hours. Without spoiling it, it’s over the top and outlandishly brilliant. The perfect expectation setter.
Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson), CJ Parker (Kelly Rohrbach), and Stephanie Holden (Ilfenesh Hadera) are growing increasingly concerned for the patrons of their beach as drugs keep washing up on shore. Determined to put a stop to it, they go beyond the call of duty for lifeguards and decide to investigate further. With new recruits Summer (Alexandra Daddario), Ronnie (Jon Bass), and Matt Brody (Zac Efron) there to help their efforts, the team must work together if they are to solve the mystery of the drugs. Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra) doesn’t like people meddling in her business, so she sets out to make sure her plans stay on track and does whatever necessary to ensure nobody can stop her.
Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron are absolutely hilarious on screen together, and they really bounce off each other’s jokes superbly. The fact that Johnson calls Efron’s character every name under the sun but his actual name produces some of the best laughs. The cast as a whole are fantastic, with each of them sharing screen time with one another at some point, and we see how different their relationships are. Jon Bass is hands down my favourite in this film because his character was completely the opposite to Johnson and Efron’s but he wasn’t just there for comedic effect, he was there representing the average guy amongst two six-pick donning, bicep tensing alphas. Priyanka Chopra also gets a special mention for her villainous role that would have a Bond villain shaking in his boots. She absolutely owned this role and I would pay good money for her to play a similar villain in a film with a more serious tone.
The humour is exactly what I expected. There’s dick jokes, running in slow motion, self-referential remarks, and constant reminders from other characters that these characters are just lifeguards and not cops. There is one joke I think will go down like lead balloon with most audiences, which refers to the death of a much loved celebrity and it actually got a few shocked gasps in the audience in my screening. Other than that, I found myself laughing throughout the film, even at the most ridiculous of jokes, because the film is just genuinely a laugh and it knows it’s basically just one giant piss-take. I think there was a lot more we could have learned about each of the characters, we only really learn about Buchannon and Brody, but hopefully this is something a sequel could provide. The gratuitous cameos were brilliantly done and fit in well with the rest of the film.
I think a sequel would be welcomed due to the fact that this film felt like it kept things safe to make sure it did well. I can really imagine some of the scenes being dialled down a touch when they wrote the script or filmed it because they wanted to make sure people left wanting more. A sequel should just carry on playing on it’s self-referential nature and just go absolutely wild and ridiculous. Give the people what they want!
If you’ve watched the trailers and found yourself thinking that it looks like your cup of tea, then you’ll not be surprised to learn that it actually is. However, if the jokes in the trailer don’t make you crack a smile, then you’d probably do best to save 2 hours of your time and skip this. I enjoyed it a lot more then I was expecting to and I think Johnson and Efron’s charisma will be a key factor in people’s enjoyment of this film. You’ll also want to stay in your seats as the credits role for some hilarious outtakes and once they’re done, there’s a short bit at the end that will make sure you leave the cinema with a smile on your face.
Tom’s rating: 6.5 out of 10