The Pacifier
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Adam Shankman
scr Thomas Lennon, Ben Garant
with Vin Diesel, Lauren Graham, Brad Garrett, Faith Ford, Brittany Snow, Max Thieriot, Morgan York, Carol Kane, Chris Potter, Denis Akiyama, Mung-Ling Tsui, Tate Donovan
release US 4.Mar.05, UK 27.May.05
05/US Disney 1h31

Don't call me Mr Mom: Diesel, Thieriot, York and Snow

diesel graham garrett

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The Pacifier Vin Diesel goes for the family audience here, and he's not bad. At least it shows that after all those self-important movies he can make fun of himself. And for what it is--lazily written fluff--the film's extremely entertaining.

Shane Wolfe (Diesel) is a top Navy SEAL assigned to protect the family of a top secret scientist (Donovan). While Mom (Ford) is away helping with the case, Shane has to watch their five kids--rebellious 16-year-old Zoe (Snow), sulky teen Seth (Thieriot), precocious 8-year-old Lulu (York), a couple of rugrats, a duck and a Romanian nanny (Kane). Soon Shane's over his head in chaos, with frequent visits to the school principals (Graham and Garrett).

After opening with a big action sequence, we pretty much know that there'll be at least two more: one in the middle to remind us of the threat and one at the end to tie up loose ends. And there's not a single thread left untied. Including the duck. This is such a heavily structured script that there's no doubt at all about what will happen, so we're left to enjoy the details. And at least there's a lot of goofy fun to be had along the way. It's not particularly clever or original, but it's lively and energetic and sometimes just a little inspired.

The three older kids turn out to be superb actors--all have strong scenes that show surprising depth for this kind of movie. And they prove to be adept on-screen foils for Diesel's muscle-man act. Diesel wisely avoids hamming it up, allowing the filmmakers to poke gentle fun at his beefy physicality (on the other hand, the gratuitous scene in which he walks around the house in nothing but a towel would, in real life, spark a lawsuit of Jacko proportions). There's not nearly enough of Kane; and the extremely game Garrett is only on screen to be humiliated time and time again, including one scene that's surprisingly mean-spirited. This is by no means a classic action comedy, but if your gold standard is Kindergarten Cop, you'll love this.

cert PG violence, innuendo, vulgarity 20.Mar.05

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2005 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall