What’s there to say about “Baywatch” that hasn’t already been discussed ad nauseam? The summer blockbuster, which premieres in theaters on Thursday, has been covered by most publications, vloggers and movie buffs. Do a quick Google search on the cinematic reboot of the popular Nineties show and you can listen to stars Alexandra Daddario and Kelly Rohrbach answer questions on eerily similar topics (what the actors did to get into shape for their respective roles, who’s dating Zac Efron, whether there’d be more or less boobs than the original) about 15 times apiece.
It does, therefore, behoove viewers to accept “Baywatch” for what it is: campy, raunchy and goofy, and above all, fun.
At Monday night’s advanced screening of the film — hosted by The Cinema Society with Hugo by Hugo Boss, Women’s Health and Svedka — Rob Huebel, who plays Captain Thorpe, said he accepted the truth about “Baywatch” early on, and didn’t parse words about the meaning behind its fame.
“Wait, why is it popular? Because of the writing,” he joked. “No. It’s just sexy people, with sexy bodies, in sexy bathing suits. That’s why the show is popular.”
Attendees at the event, which included the aforementioned Daddario, Rohrbach, Ilfenesh Hadera, Jon Bass and Zac Efron — who stopped to take photos, then dashed away from the red carpet, his flack in tow — were also trying to piece together what exactly it is that draws people to this kind of movie.
Perhaps it’s the filmic stylings of Dwayne Johnson, who was missing from Monday night’s screening. In a recent GQ profile, the man formerly known for his refrain, “Can you smell what The Rock is cooking?” and who is now the highest paid actor in the world is described as hitting what’s called “all four quadrants,” winning the hearts and minds of old men, young men, old women and young women. That recipe is one for success, guaranteeing ticket sales and lots of eyes.
“Baywatch” doesn’t necessarily need a plot, because the charisma and slapstick humor the characters — even those who have been typecast as serious intel-gatherers — bring is enough to keep audiences giggling. One of the first scenes involves Bass getting his nether regions stuck between the wooden slats of a beach chair. But add a narrative to the movie the writers did: the motley crew, led by Johnson, realizes a drug ring is slanging what’s called “Flakka,” causing deaths and mystery on the beach.
Priyanka Chopra, who plays villain Victoria Leeds, said the role — which marks her Hollywood debut — was originally written for a man. But she said this version of “Baywatch” has taken the gaze away from the women’s bodies and, instead, turned it upon the men.
“Look, entertainment is entertainment,” she said. “Entertainment will be what it is. But in this movie, I’ve seen, especially with all the girls, the kind of determination and work that it took to be in those bodies, and the kind of focus they had. These are powerful, badass women who have owned their suits and are playing incredible characters.”
Once the credits and gag reel rolled, guests cut down Orchard Street to Mr. Purple, where the after party was held. Although most of the actors were long gone, Daddario hung about, chatting with a glass in her hand. The actress plays the object of Efron’s affection, and has certainly borne the brunt of body-focused questioning during the press tour for the film. When asked what her ideal role would be in a future film, the native New Yorker took a second to think. “I like doing comedy, because I think making people laugh is a wonderful feeling,” she said. “But I want to tell stories, I want to make people feel things. I want to do things that are different.”
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