The Pacifier (2005) / Comedy-Action
MPAA Rated: PG for crude humor, violence, and language
Running Time: 91 min.
Cast: Vin Diesel, Lauren Graham, Faith Ford, Brittany Snow, Max Thieriot, Brad Garrett, Chris Potter, Carol Kane, Morgan York, Kegan Hoover, Logan Hoover, Bo Vink, Luke Vink, Tate Donovan, Dennis Akiyama, Mung-Ling Tsui
Director: Adam Shankman
Screenplay: Thomas Lennon, Ben Garant
Review published March 8, 2005
Vin Diesel (A Man Apart, XXX) plays Navy SEAL Shane Wolfe, whose squad failed to get captured scientist Harold Plummer (Tate Donovan, Holy Matrimony) back alive in a covert mission. Since the mission was not a success, Wolfe's next assignment is to move into a suburban household to protect Plummer's five children while the wife (Faith Ford, "Murphy Brown") travels to retrieve hubby's belongings from a Swiss bank deposit box. Meanwhile, Wolfe is also to uncover the whereabouts of Plummer's secret GHOST project, which is the reason why the nefarious bad guys are still targeting the Plummer house. When the nanny (Carol Kane, Trees Lounge) ditches the house, Wolfe struggles to keep charge of the kids, making this his toughest assignment yet.
Let's look at the background before examining The Pacifier. The screenplay is written by Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant, the screenwriting duo responsible for one of the worst movies of last year, Taxi. The problem with that film is the same problem with this one -- it is written by people who seem to have no concept of research before writing a major motion picture, probably looking at other Hollywood movies for inspiration, recycling and rehashing in whatever way seems convenient.
Their depiction of how the Navy SEALs operate? Pure fantasy. OK, fine. Not everyone knows the purpose of the Navy SEALs, so it's easy to pull the wool over our eyes, but damn near everyone knows how schools operate, right? Apparently Lennon and Garant have never been to a school, concocting that the kids go to a K-12 school (so that they all can be filmed together, I guess), which exist mostly in towns with very few people, but we're talking Bethesda, Maryland, with its population of almost 60,000. Well, it's not even Bethesda, or even the United States, for that matter -- The Pacifier is filmed in Canada.
I'm not sure about your school, but the vice principal at any school I've ever been to never took such an active participation in the everyday lives of students, and certainly never took the time to call my parents whenever I showed up late to class. I'm also curious about the Swiss banks that allow patrons access to safety deposit boxes with a verbal password, and if they don't get it right, they allow them to guess at it indefinitely until they get it -- very, very convenient!
The Pacifier is a film made by people with only one object in mind -- to cash in on Diesel's popularity, while also trying hard for the actor to crossover into more than just lowbrow action vehicles. That's all well and good, since it worked well for Arnie in the very similarly premised Kindergarten Cop, but Diesel's attempt suffers from being uninspired and shamefully lazy. Unless you think it's hilarious to see a tough guy deal with poopy diapers or taking the girls to their scout meetings, there is nothing here to merit a chuckle. Not a thing.
Like most of today's "family fare", The Pacifier's attempts at humor reside in the scatological variety. The worst among many of these scenes is when Diesel takes a dip in raw sewage, and walks around the house with urine and feces dripping off every appendage. Other treats involve flatulent children, vomiting babies, and a gonad-targeting duck. Why is this a PG rated film?? God forbid that children should hear a cuss word, but lets teach them "cute" things like how to slick up the top of the stairwell so that someone will slip and tumble violently down the hardwood steps.
The Pacifier isn't just an awful film, as there seems to be a plethora of stinkers filling up theaters this year -- it's also downright embarrassing. It's embarrassing for Vin Diesel, it's embarrassing for Hollywood moviemaking, and what's worse, it's embarrassing for us viewers to admit we shelled out money for. If they were to put a sheet of paper on a baby instead of a diaper, they wouldn't have to wait long before that baby "wrote" a better script than the one used here. For masochists only.
©2005 Vince Leo