Reviewed by: Lori Souder
|Featuring||Vin Diesel, Lauren Graham, Brittany Snow, Carol Kane, Brad Garrett|
|Producer||Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber, Jonathan Glickman|
|Distributor||Walt Disney Pictures|
Prepare for bottle.
Vin Diesel plays a likeable, honest and trustworthy Navy Seal named Shane who is somehow roped into protecting a bunch of undisciplined kids. This farfetched story also stars Lauren Graham as a school principal. She is the rare sane and reasonable voice in “The Pacifier’s” world of unbalanced and improbable characters. The children’s mother is played by Faith Ford. Her character is never developed, all we ever really know about her is that she is a terrible mother, her kids act like animals and are the worst problems at their school—and that she has an Elizabeth Taylor-sized diamond ring.
During the movie’s opening scenes, we observe Shane (Vin Diesel) heading up a team of capable and effective Seals who perform a dangerous and violent rescue at sea. Unfortunately, it is not fully successful. Shane is wounded, and the mission is compromised. Shane feels somewhat responsible for the death of the victim, and is sent on an assignment to protect the children of the man that he let get killed… not exactly the best story line for a light comedy marketed to young children and families.
As the movie progresses, the crude humor and risky behaviors of the children and adults are apparently supposed to be amusing, but I never thought the laughs “kicked-in.” The story had great potential, but the writing was not good quality, and the plot seemed to be drifting at times. If Vin Diesel had not agreed to star in this movie, I doubt it would ever have been made; it is just too trivial and unengaging. There were very few moments that felt like a “pay off.” In other words, I didn’t feel the movie deserved an hour and a half of my time—or anyone’s.
One of the best characters, a tame mallard duck, seemed very comical and interesting, but it was under utilized and not well explained. How many typical suburban families have a duck walking around on their counter tops and coffee tables? I kept waiting for a great duck scene, but it never came. I also noticed that the duck was a robot in at least one scene (I guess the duck had a better offer).
Carol Kane, who plays Helga the babysitter, performed some great physical comedy in the beginning of the movie, but she was all too quickly gone, never to return.
I was surprised that there was so much violence in this PG-rated movie—including destruction of property, cruelty, and some really mean-spirited encounters between adults. The violence alone seems to warrant a PG-13 rating; some young children could be frightened. The story’s main plot is that the children are abandoned (or left) by both their parents and their babysitter (Helga)—and are in grave danger. In addition, they are being protected by a complete stranger who they are supposed to trust with their lives. The mother does not come back when she promises, and the children are subjected to a terrifying home invasion. In my opinion, this movie is not appropriate for children under 12 or so.
Many of the jokes are based on potty humor and crude situations. Some parents may dislike a couple of shots of low slung jeans revealing upper behinds, and two fleeting shots of very young male genitals. There is also some very mild swearing, and the Lord’s name is taken in vain several times.
One of the movies’ worst messages is on the issue of child discipline. Every time the children do something really bad, there are no real consequences.
The movie also sends kids a negative message about driving. In every car driving scene, the drivers fail to use reasonable judgment—endangering all the children’s lives. A teenage driver, who did not go to driver’s training, is forced (for no good reason) to drive the minivan with everyone inside—almost killing the family several times over. I guess this is supposed to be funny. Again, there were no consequences. No matter how terribly the minivan is driven, it never rolls over or is involved in an accident—just constant near misses where everyone walks away unscratched.
I cannot recommend this movie. I was disappointed; the previews included most of the funniest parts—which somehow seemed not so funny, in context. Despite Vin Deisel’s efforts, the film failed to live up to its potential and was barely entertaining. If you want to see it, I recommend that you wait for the DVD release, or better yet, forget all about it.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Minor