‘The Pacifier’ is Vin Diesel’s attempt having his own Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ‘Kindergarten Cop’

[rating=3]Starring: Vin Diesel, Lauren Graham, Faith Ford, Brittany Snow, Max Thierot, Carol Kane, Brad Garrett
Director(s): Adam Shankman
Writer(s): Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant

Vin Diesel and Brad Garrett in 'The Pacifier'
Vin Diesel and Brad Garrett in ‘The Pacifier’

Although I like Vin Diesel, it has been pretty impressive to see just how quickly his “heat” fizzled away. With the apparent disappointment of XXX, and then the total collapse of Riddick, he isn’t considered much of an action star anymore.

That is, until he did The Pacifier. In a move straight out of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s playbook, Diesel did a family friendly comedy that poked fun at his image while reinventing him. And it apparently worked, as The Pacifier performed well at the box office. With the film coming to DVD tomorrow, I finally got the opportunity to check it out.

And to be honest, it wasn’t all that bad.

The Pacifier is pretty much for Diesel what Kindergarten Cop was for Schwarzenegger: a light-hearted romp that used the public image of Diesel as the main joke. While I don’t think The Pacifier matches the humor and heart of Kindergarten Cop, it is still enjoyable, with some honestly funny moments (although kids may laugh more than the adults).

The story goes as follows: After a key scientist for the government is killed on a mission that went wrong, Shane Wolf (Diesel), a hard-nosed Navy SEAL is given the assignment to protect the scientist’s family while searching for a classified computer program that is possibly hidden in the his house. His family consists of five children: a baby and a toddler, a young daughter and two teenagers.

Although the relationship between Wolf and the children gets off to a rocky start, when two assassins attempt to break into the house while the children are home, tensions quickly begin to fade away. But just when Wolf gets a handle on taking care of the five children, he must save the family when the secrets regarding the classified computer program are finally discovered.

I wasn’t really expecting to like The Pacifier all that much. I mean, Diesel as some kind of super nanny is pretty silly, and is far from original. Hulk Hogan did something similar with Mr. Nanny. And while the plot is kind of goofy, and the story seems to fast forward through each plot point, it’s basically a kid’s film. Diesel’s Shane Wolf is not a real Navy SEAL, but what a kid might think a Navy SEAL is like. A super-soldier who fights ninjas and saves the world.

The problems the two teen children face are rather sanitary. The fact that their father was killed is mostly watered down, so much so that it’s only really addressed toward the end. Plus, Diesel never really seems all that comfortable in the role, but perhaps that’s how he wanted to play it (kind of hard to tell).

There is one scene that had me cracking up. In order to help the young daughter, Lulu (Morgan York), to go to sleep, Wolf tells her a bedtime story. He makes up the story as he goes, and basically talks about a military operation he went on, but describes himself and his team as “elves”, and the bad guys as “gnomes”. It’s without a doubt The Pacifier’s most hilarious moment. Brad Garrett is also funny as the bullying high school wrestling coach, but is a little too mean, and as a result isn’t very believable.

The special features are pretty basic, but Garrett’s solo feature is funny. There’s also a similar feature that focuses on Diesel, which comes off a little to sweet and nice about the actor. A blooper reel and set of deleted scenes are joined by an audio commentary with the director (Adam Shankman) and the film’s writers (Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant).

Rated: PG
Run Time: 1 hr., 35 mins.


Michael Sheridan

Michael Sheridan has written, directed and produced more than a dozen short films under the banner of Maynard Films, and has worked as a writer for more than a decade for websites, magazines and newspapers.

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