Newly released...with Mark Moorehead
Pacifier entertains with plenty of Diesel power
General Audience: B-
Light family comedy from the folks at Disney. Not much appeal for adults. However, kids love big guy Vin Diesel defending their turf. No language, blood, sex or nudity.
Family Audience: B
Navy Seal baby baby-sits and defends family of government scientist. Kids start out rude and crude but soon behave with a little discipline from Vin Diesel. Will appeal to children 8 to 18. Rated PG for action violence, language and rude humor. The expression ‘bite me” is as bad as the language gets.
Vin Diesel follows in the footsteps of Arnold Schwarzenegger (Kindergarten Cop) by taking a role in a Disney family film. Both Arnold and Diesel are well known action heroes, and for some reason they figure if they do the family film gig they’ll demonstrate to Hollywood their versatility.
They seriously worry about being type cast and dream of being offered a role as a romantic lead in drama or perhaps marrying into the Kennedy family and becoming governor of California. The Pacifier represents Diesel’s first official plunge into comedy fare and he manages to pull it off by playing it straight. That’s a smart thing to do, considering most family comedy films today consist of a series of predictable sight gags and gross-out humor situations. His character is a certainly a stark contrast to his earlier roles as the humorless Riddick in Pitch Black and a tough criminal streetcar racer in The Fast and the Furious.
Diesel plays Wolfe, a no-nonsense Navy Seal assigned to protect the family of a military scientist killed during a failed rescue attempt orchestrated by Wolfe months earlier. The deceased scientist has left behind a super-secret military weapon program. Wolfe’s boss suspects the scientist may have stored it in a safety deposit box in Switzerland and asks the widow Mrs. Plummer (Faith Ford) to accompany him to Zurich to fetch it.
Diesel is left to baby-sit and protect five kids and a duck from potential enemies of the state seeking the secret weapon.
What we see in the Plummers' is a stereotypical made-for-TV family: rebellious teenage son; self- absorbed, bratty teenage daughter, cute and mature beyond her years adolescent girl; withdrawn little boy starving for attention; and generic baby who projectile-vomits and soils diapers on cue. One refreshing deviation from this model is the substitution of a duck for the family dog. That does fit the modus operandi of a nerdy scientist type.
When Wolfe arrives at the Plummer home he makes a quick assessment of the security deficiencies and immediately goes about the business of installing all the necessary safeguards. Next, he observes the family dynamics and accurately concludes that there is a total lack of discipline and respect in this household. Wolfe gathers the rude children together and announces “My way… and no there’s Highway.” He then proceeds to give them code names like Red Number 1 and Red Number 2 since he admits he’ll never remember their names.
All the Plummer children rebel against their new militaristic nanny until they experience a home invasion by a couple of ninja enemy agents looking for the secret weapon. As they begin to accept Wolfe as their loyal guardian, Wolfe begins to expand into a larger role as parent and family member.
Things get a little mushy from here, including a bit of a stretch with Wolfe taking over as director and choreographer of the musical Sound of Music, in which Red Number 2 is performing after the real director walks out.
And, when Wolfe agrees to perform a nightly and lengthy “dancing panda” routine so the little boy will go to sleep, I wanted to do what the baby did in this film when it’s fed too much food. What happened to the boot camp disciplinarian?
He should have told the kid “lights out, good night.” No way would Riddick would put up with that nonsense.