Everyone Loves Dwayne Johnson – and Seven Other Reasons You Must See Baywatch

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

With Memorial Day weekend, summer arrives in the American conscience. And what’s more summer (or more American), than Baywatch, that 242-episode icon that lives in everyone’s collective slow-motion memories of the 1990s?

The last episode wrapped a long time ago, but Paramount is bringing Baywatch back, refreshed and updated for the cinema, next Thursday, May 25:

Long-time fans likely don’t need a lot of incentive to don their red swim trunks and life jackets and get in line outside the theater. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Baywatch, however, here are eight reasons why you should stake out a spot in your favorite beach chair now:

1) Everybody loves Dwayne Johnson

The People’s Champion. The Rock. The Rock Obama. The future U.S. president?

Johnson is so perfectly suited to be so many things that when Paramount released G.I. Joe: Retaliation in 2013, he was the natural pick to star as heavy machine gunner Roadblock, one of the most popular Joes of all time.

And he plays a starring role as Mitch Buchannon, the jetski-riding, bad-guy chasing, refrigerator-carrying man about beach who leads the Baywatch lifeguard team. Who else would dive underneath a raging fire and emerge in the bowels of a burning yacht to save someone? And who doesn’t want to see that?

The answer: no one.

“In an age when it’s cooler to hate things than enjoy them, Johnson has carved out an improbable niche for himself, as someone it’s safe to like,” GQ’s Caty Weaver wrote recently. “Maybe you like him because he’s big and does fast things in slow motion. Maybe you like him because he had one song to sing in the children’s musical he was cast in, and he sang it with his whole heart. Undeniably, he is likable…”

2) Dwayne Johnson love Zac Efron (and so will you)

Johnson, who is People’s reining Sexiest Man Alive, recently endorsed costar Zac Efron – who plays Olympic gold medalist Matt Brody in the film – as a candidate to assume his title next year.

“Do I get a vote? Then yes, absolutely I could see that,” Johnson told People. “I could see one out of five happening, I can’t divulge that right now, but he’s in the top five.”

(L-R) Dwayne Johnson as Mitch Buchannon and Zac Efron as Matt Brody in Baywatch by Paramount Pictures, Montecito Picture Company, FlynnPicture Co., and Fremantle Productions. Photo credit: Frank Masi © 2016 PARAMOUNT PICTURES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

And what’s not to like? While Brody saunters onto the beach as a hotshot international swimming star, he reprises the role of affable dufus that Efron excels at. Buchannon mocks him as “One Direction” and makes him haul tandem refrigerators across the beach to prove himself. But that doesn’t stop Brody from leading monster parties, chasing criminals in “lifeguard pursuit” down the boardwalk, and, you know, leaping off a freaking motorcycle into the ocean.

3) But then again, the Rock loves everyone

The Baywatch beach is big, and there’s a lot of talent filling it up. On the Forces of Good side of the credits, Alexandra Daddario plays Summer Quinn, Kelly Rorhbach reprises the role of C.J. Parker, and Ilfenesh Hadera plays Buchannon’s second-in-command Stephanie Holden. Meanwhile, Priyanka Chopra, a former Miss World and one of the most popular Bollywood celebrities in India, tries out her evil cackling as Victoria Leeds, whose materialization in the Baywatch environs has directly corresponded with an uptick in violence and drug smuggling. The Rock, peering down from his lifeguard chair, nods approvingly at them all:

4) “Every character gets to be badass in their own way”

That’s Daddario’s take. And she’s right, as you can see here in this mash-up of boxing, explosions, ATV charges and rescues:

5) Everyone who’s not in the film wants to be, including Michael Phelps

Faux Olympian Matt Brody may have had a hard time leaping over Buchannon’s entry gates, but when human dolphin Michael Phelps steps into his office, even his 28 Olympic gold medals don’t give him a walk-on pass:

6) The new C.J. Parker was a huge fan of the original growing up.

If anyone is going to rep the iconic character the right way, it’s going to be superfan Rohrbach, whose entire childhood diet of television consisted of Baywatch.

“My sisters think it’s hilarious, because Baywatch was the only thing we watched growing up,” she told GMA News Online. “One of my earliest memories is sucking my thumb and watching Baywatch. It’s such an iconic piece of pop culture. Everybody has a memory attached to it in one way or another, and I loved the script’s cheeky take on the series.”

(L-R) Dwayne Johnson as Mitch Buchannon, Ilfenesh Hadera as Stephanie Holden and Kelly Rohrbach as C.J. Parker in the film Baywatch by Paramount Pictures, Montecito Picture Company, FlynnPicture Co., and Fremantle Productions

Don’t expect many 5-year-olds next to you in the theater, though – the movie carries an R rating.

7) …but the original C.J. Parker is back too

Pamela Anderson, who played Parker on the television series from 1992 to ’97, will return in a cameo role, emerging from the surf to play a Hawaiin lifeguard named Claudia Jean.

8) …and so is David Hasselhoff

For real. The old Mitch Buchannon appears (as a different character) alongside the new Mitch Buchannon in the film.

Hasselfhoff plays a small role in the film, but fans hitting the multiplex for a rush of nostalgia will welcome the cameo by the original head lifeguard. “When you see the movie, it’s different than Baywatch [the TV series], and it’s very funny, but it’s very today,” he told Good Morning America (GMA). “You can’t recreate an 80s television show – you just can’t, and so they did a good job with it.”

The actor told GMA that he worked out for six weeks when he found out he was going to appear alongside Johnson on the film. So what did Hasselfhoff think of The Rock? “He was really really kind and cool and gracious, and wanted to know all about Baywatch, and said ‘thank you for coming,’” he said.

Everybody loves Dwayne Johnson.




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