Vin Diesel leaps from his action hero comfort zone right into the hit-or-miss frying pan of comedy star with his role in The Pacifier. He's Shane Wolfe, a Navy S.E.A.L. whose next mission is to protect the children of an assassinated scientist that worked on some kind of top-secret military invention. The film ambitiously dabbles in the humorous suggestion that the skills needed for child rearing are demanding enough to bring a Navy S.E.A.L. to his knees. While this is indeed a funny analogy that anyone who's ever been charged with caring for children certainly understands, it's really only a one-dimensional joke with barely enough mileage for a two-minute trailer, let alone a full-length motion picture.
Diesel says he saw the role of Shane as a perfect opportunity to expand his talents and hopefully gain recognition from a new cadre of comedy fans. He recognized a lot of potential in Shane's character that dynamically arcs from tough guy to loveable softie as the plot progresses. While Diesel's thinking is on the right track, it's his execution that fails to uphold the idea. It's easy to be the tough-guy action star on masculine stature alone, but being a funny man requires certain talents and skills he hasn't yet mastered. Once Shane trades in his weapons and frogman flippers for juice boxes and Pampers, Diesel becomes completely unbelievable in his character's skin. Michael Keaton took the father-as-caretaker role in Mr. Mom and endeared his character to a legion of fans. His sincere charm lured us into his upside-down world, allowing us to experience his dilemma and, most importantly, sympathize with his plight. Keaton's self-deprecating humor made it fun for us to watch him get beat up by the daily routines of a stay-at-home Mom, er Dad. Diesel is never able to take his character to a level any higher than that of some poor joker on the screen who can't change a diaper.
Shane is charged with protecting the Plummer family, whose members are an unbelievably diverse gaggle of personalities lead by Zoe (Brittany Snow), the self-centered teen daughter who rallies the other kids on her crusade to reject Shane's assistance. Max Thieriot is Zoe's misunderstood brother Seth, who wears dark clothes and is so depressed he barely utters a single word. Lulu (Morgan York) is Zoe's youngest sister who provides Shane with a bounty of Girl Scout friends he can whip into tip-top military shape. The youngest child exists solely to provide the poopy-diapers and flatulence that makes all the kids in the audience laugh. The grandmother, played by Carol Kane, is a terribly out-of-place character. Her disheveled appearance and horrible "Boris & Natasha" accent make her seem like a bag lady who took refuge in the Plummer home, rather than a genuine member of the family. Thankfully, she leaves after about twenty minutes.
The Pacifier is really nothing more than a Kindergarten Cop knockoff that was written specifically to showcase Vin Diesel's comedic talents. A trial balloon, if you will, to see if there's any draw left in this once brightly shining star. Unfortunately, Diesel's comedic talents aren't strong enough to carry the film and neither is the writing of Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant. It's a B-movie with B-talent throughout that's harmless enough to recommend for the kids but not entertaining enough to host the parents.
Screen formats: Widescreen Anamorphic 2.35:1
Subtitles: English, Closed Captioned
Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 5.1; French: DTS 5.1 Surround
Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access.
* Commentary: Featuring director Adam Shankman and writers Thomas Lennon and Robert Garant.
o On the Set with Vin Diesel
o On the Set with Brad Garrett
* Trailers: Original theatrical trailer for The Pacifier.
* Bloopers: Special Oops TV Commercials
Number of discs: 1 - Region 1 Keepcase packaging.
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