Kelly Rohrbach, Alexandra Daddario, Ilfenesh Hadera, Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Hannibal Buress and Jon Bass in “Baywatch.”
In case the question should ever arise on a standardized test, the opposite of “prestige TV” is “Baywatch.” The series, which ran on NBC and in ubiquitous syndication through the 1990s, bequeathed a rich legacy of wet-suit fashion, Jet Ski safety and sunscreen awareness. In other news, Paramount has just released a movie called “Baywatch,” starring Dwayne Johnson in the role of the beach daddy originated by David Hasselhoff.
The film, directed by Seth Gordon (“Identity Thief,” “Horrible Bosses”), can be viewed from several perspectives, most notably the abdominal, the pectoral and the gluteal. If torsos and tails are not your thing, other aspects of human anatomy are also available for study. Arms and legs, for example. But though acres of flesh are exposed to view — most of it pleasingly sculpted — there is very little outright nudity and no sex to speak of.
You will, however, witness some rude and suggestive sight gags and an extended sequence in a morgue involving the genitals of a dead man. Those bits, and the energetic profanity in the script (written by Damian Shannon and Mark Swift), represent cosmetic alterations intended to secure an R rating, at the moment a mark of credibility in the world of big-screen comedy. Make no mistake, though: The project’s essential network prime-time DNA remains intact. Like its source material, “Baywatch” is sleazy and wholesome, silly and earnest, dumb as a box of sand and slyly self-aware. It’s soft-serve ice cream. Crinkle-cut fries. A hot car and a skin rash. Tacky and phony and nasty and also kind of fun.