Here are the top three films you don’t want to miss this week, writes Declan Burke.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge 3/5
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul 3/5
Mitch Buchanan (Dwayne Johnson) isn’t just a Baywatch (15A) lifeguard: Mitch is a legend, a superhero, a man who saves drowning swimmers two at a time.
When his Emerald Bay turf (sand) is threatened by drug-smuggling villain Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra), Mitch rallies his lifeguard crew — including bad-boy rebel Matt Brody (Zac Efron) — to bring Victoria and her henchmen to justice.
Seth Gordon’s feature-length movie of the iconic TV series is a comedy as broad as the Los Angeles beaches on which it is shot, a tongue-in-cheek homage to the shallow thrills provided by David Hasselhoff, Pamela Anderson, et al.
Acres of impossibly chiselled flesh? Check. Scarcely plausible dramatic rescues of swimmers in peril? Check.
Toothy smiles, blonde hair and skin-tight swimming costumes? Check, check and check again.
That said, and while it would be flouting the Trades Description Act to describe Baywatch as subversive, Gordon and his screenwriters (six in total) have delivered a movie that simultaneously pokes gentle fun at the original series even as it delivers a wildly OTT reboot.
The humour is crude and lewd
, but there’s a ramshackle charm to it all, especially when Mitch & Co set themselves up as amateur investigators of a local politician’s murder, a plot development which is entirely ridiculous, as a number of cast members take pains to point out. Meanwhile, the relationship between the devoted lifeguard Mitch and his troublesome new recruit Brody generates plenty of laughs
. Pacy, slick and enjoyably improbable, Baywatch is big, dumb fun.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (12A) opens with notorious buccaneer Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) down on his luck again.
Hunted by the ghostly Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), a man who has vowed to rid the high seas of pirates, Jack must find the mythical trident of Poseidon, a curse-breaking weapon also sought by Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) and Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelaria), a squabbling duo aided and abetted by perennial Jack-botherer Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush).
That’s the general gist, at least, of the fifth in the increasingly bonkers franchise, although the plot is little more than the most skeletal of frameworks designed to allow Johnny Depp strut his stuff, as directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg bolt together a series of frenetic action sequences given the slenderest of narrative threads by Jack’s narrow escapes from impossible situations.
Surprisingly, it all works rather well, and the more preposterous the scene the better, such as when Jack finds himself strapped to a guillotine and tossing out non sequiturs at a rate of knots – although it’s also fair to say that if Jack Sparrow’s shtick, loosely based on Depp’s impersonation of Keith Richards, has begun to grate in previous Pirates movies, then Salazar’s Revenge offers more rather than less.
The cameo from Paul McCartney is an amusing diversion, and Geoffrey Rush and Javier Bardem do their best to provide some much-needed ballast to prevent the whimsy from degenerating into full-blown nonsense, but for the most part Salazar’s Revenge is the Johnny Depp show, and he delivers just enough laughs to make it all worth your while.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (PG) finds the Heffley family embarking on a road trip, as Greg (Jason Drucker) — our eponymous hero — is dragged off to visit his grandmother on the occasion of her 90th birthday, the idea being that the Heffley family will emerge at the end of the journey a stronger family.
Confined and claustrophobic, Greg and his older brother Rodrick (Charlie Wright) plot to thwart their mother’s (Alicia Silverstone) best laid plans, and it’s not long before their scheming precipitates chaos and disaster…
The fourth installment in the franchise doesn’t veer too far from the established formula, as director David Bowers, co-writing with Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney, puts the emphasis on 12-year-old Greg’s ongoing embarrassment via a series of slapstick encounters with bearded weirdos (‘beardos’), a piglet running riot, a dirty nappy discovered in a ball-pool, and an unfortunate incident involving a hot tub and a giant bag of orange-coloured potato snacks.
It’s all aimed at a very young audience, of course, so expect a quota of parp and poop jokes; adults are catered for with a number of cinematic in-jokes, which include references to Psycho and (bizarrely) Southern Comfort, although the most telling reference is the short snippet of Laurel and Hardy in their prime.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved