The fact that Zac Efron, handsome human man, looks a lot like Ted Bundy, infamous serial killer, is making us a little…uncomfortable. But maybe that’s the point of Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, the new film in which Efron portrays Bundy and reminds us that yes, even charismatic and very attractive people can be total murder monsters.
If you prefer watching people sit on a beach to actually sitting on a beach for Memorial Day weekend, there’s a new Baywatch movie in theaters today, starring Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron. Though Baywatch endured in syndication for over a decade, it’s not like there was a massive fanbase out there begging for a big-screen version; the film, directed by Seth Gordon, is mostly a lighthearted sendup of the old series about heroic lifeguards.
One of the least funny running jokes in the new Baywatch movie — which is really saying something because there are a lot of unfunny running jokes in the new Baywatch movie — involves these lifeguards constantly inserting themselves into all sorts of situations that fall well beyond their jurisdiction. They refer to laughable old cases that have nothing to do with rescuing drowners, a nod to the old Baywatch TV show that serves as the film’s source material and chief target. But the case the takes up most of the film’s inexplicably expansive runtime (116 minutes! For a Baywatch movie!) is just as absurd, with the lifeguards trying to bring down a drug ring and real-estate swindle centered around their Southern California beach. Ha ... ha?
Hold onto your (well-toned) butts, ladies and gentlemen, because Zac Efron’s career is about to kick into high gear. After a few years spent as a teenage heartthrob — and a few more years spent revamping his image in movies like Neighbors and Baywatch as everyone’s favorite ‘sex idiot’ — it looks like Efron is gearing up to pivot yet-again into the dramatic stage of his career. What type of dramatic turn, you ask? A troubled artist? A struggling musician? You’re close! How about infamous serial killer Ted Bundy?
There was no jocularity on Baywatch when I was a child. These brave men and women in red bathing suits were doing very important things, like guarding lives, performing CPR, running in slow-motion, and occasionally starting totally random spinoff shows featuring sea monsters. The new Baywatch movie is a new breed of ‘watch. These guys do joke around, constantly. It’s Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron as mismatched partners on the lifeguard scene, joking about one another’s testicles, performing highly unprofessional autopsies, and even arguing over severed limbs. Seriously: Not your Hasselhoff’s Baywatch.
It’s weird — with every new trailer, the upcoming big-screen reboot of beloved ‘90s TV series Baywatch appears to get a little bit better. The first trailer promised a lightly amusing clone of the smart-alecky 21 Jump Street reboot, the second trailer advertised a competently-produced action tentpole with a healthy sprinkling of meta humor, and now, the so-called “official” trailer (does that make the first two unofficial?) teases what appears to be a sincerely funny comedy. At the very least, whoever cut this thing made it abundantly clear that stars Zac Efron and Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson have more chemistry than an eighth-grade science class.