out of Five
Running time: 91
Average, watchable comedy with a few good moments. Basically, this is Big Vin’s Kindergarten Cop and your enjoyment of it will depend on just how much of a Vin fan you are.
You have to wonder about the sort of career advice Vin Diesel is getting these days. He’s already jumped ship from two potentially lucrative franchises (XXX and The Fast and the Furious) and the one sequel he did make (The Chronicles of Riddick) turned out to be a grade A stinker.
And now, in a clear indication that he intends to challenge The Rock for the mantle of “The New Schwarzenegger”, Big Vin has turned to light-hearted family fare in a bid to show that he can do comedy, providing he gets to fight ninjas and direct musicals into the bargain.
Big Vin plays Navy SEAL Shane Wolfe, who’s assigned to protect the family of a top secret scientist (Tate Donovan) after the scientist gets, um, killed in the first scene. (Oh dear. I hope you didn’t quit The O.C. so you could do this movie, Mr Donovan). For some reason the mother (Faith Ford) needs to go away to help with the case, so Shane is left to look after the five kids and their pet duck on his own. (At least, he is once he frightens away Carol Kane’s Romanian nanny).
If you’ve ever seen a film before, you’ll pretty much know what to expect. The kids (including rebellious 16 year old Brittany Snow, stroppy teen Max Theriot and smart-mouthed 8 year old Morgan York) are initially none too pleased and make things difficult for Shane, but they gradually bond with him, especially after he saves them from a ninja attack. Well, you would, wouldn’t you?
Before long, he’s sorting out their personal problems and generally turning them into all round better people. He even finds time to flirt with their high school vice-principal (Lauren Graham from Bad Santa).
The script isn’t quite as funny as it could have been but it’s extremely well structured – every set-up has its pay-off and every loose end is tied up by the end. Wisely, Vin doesn’t go in for any Arnie-style mugging and instead plays a slightly softer version of his hard man persona, while demonstrating the ability to send himself up at the same time.
The supporting cast are extremely good, particularly the three main children – they have a good rapport with Vin that works well. There’s also an amusing comic turn by Brad Garrett (from Everybody Loves Raymond) as the obnoxious wrestling-obsessed principal who picks on Theriot.
As with most comedies, The Pacifier has its good and bad moments. For example, it’s fun to watch Vin do “The Panda Dance” and get attacked by a duck but the dirty nappy jokes just make you realise that if you’ve seen one dirty nappy joke you’ve seen them all.
In short, The Pacifier is an average, predictable comedy thriller that remains watchable thanks to above-average performances and a smattering of decent gags.