Before parodying your action superstar image, don’t you first have to be an action superstar? Apparently not if you’re hairless lunkhead Vin Diesel, who proves with The Pacifier that he’s unprepared to inherit either Schwarzenegger’s superhero or comedy mantle. Diesel stars as Shane Wolfe, a Navy SEAL ordered to protect the family of a murdered scientist who was working on a nuke-disarming satellite program called GHOST, a fitting moniker given that this McGuffin barely exists in director Adam Shankman’s fish-out-of-water (or is it muscleman-out-of-Gold’s-Gym?) story. With only military training to guide him, Wolfe finds it tough adjusting to suburban life, a task made more difficult by the bratty, delinquent children who despise his disciplinarian methods and endeavor to make his toddler-intensive tour of duty miserable. That Diesel’s top-notch soldier is capable of handling a mini-van like an assault vehicle but can’t figure out how to strap a baby into a car seat is just plain idiotic, but such inconsistencies are emblematic of a movie too mind-numbingly dumb to be truthfully labeled “family friendly.” Despite some peripheral spy stuff, Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant’s script is primarily interested in reimagining a hulking he-man as a cuddly, studly metrosexual equally adept at humiliating a cocky vice-principal (Brad Garrett) during an after-school wrestling match and directing a stage production of The Sound of Music. Yet bereft of even Kindergarten Cop‘s main draws (Arnold’s bizarre Austrian-accented cheeriness; cute non sequitur-spouting tykes), The Pacifier deflates into desperate gags in which a puking baby and a pants-less toddler are offered up as the apex of kiddie humor. Barking orders in his baritone growl, Wolfe negotiates appeasement with his rambunctious charges by teaching superficial teen Zoe (Brittany Snow) how to drive, wrestler Seth (Max Thieriot) to embrace his inner actor, and pint-sized Cub Scout Lulu (Morgan York) how to kick bully ass, and in the process learns to enjoy being Mr. Mom. Such moralizing drivel—killing people and saving the world is cool, but being a happy-go-lucky homemaker is even better—is delivered with all the subtlety of a Diesel clothesline. But it’s difficult to even pay attention to a film so derivative, redundant, and insipid that it delivers not one, not two, not three, but four separate jokes about dirty diapers.
- Touchstone Pictures
- 91 min
- Adam Shankman
- Kevin Williamson
- Vin Diesel, Lauren Graham, Faith Ford, Brittany Snow, Max Thieriot, Chris Potter, Carol Kane, Brad Garrett, Morgan York, Tate Donovan
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