Any Navy Seal is equipped with the latest in freedom-fighting gadgetry. Straps, pockets and belts hold guns, grenades and various homing devices. The primary visual gag in The Pacifier involves one Seal on a top-secret baby-sitting mission who fashions his weapon-holders into baby food and nappy holders.
Disney’s new family flick is cheerful, lively, and occasionally clever as it sends up the high-tech know-how required by 21st-century parents. In this case, a professor who has invented a mysterious microchip dies at the hands of terrorists, or is he kidnapped? With the victim’s wife away on a mission of her own, the government sends in a one-man security force: the fearless Shane Wolfe is deemed adaptable enough to serve this fatherless family.
The first problem with The Pacifier is the fact that we’re never entirely sure what really happened to Dr. Plummer (Tate Donovan). At one point characters say he was kidnapped, but there appears to be no effort to rescue him, and then at another point in the film the family are told that he’s dead. But, this is a Disney family movie so asking logical questions will only make you hate the film.
Vin Diesel is very likeable in this film, someone that you would want to spend 90 minutes with. He has an energy level that makes you more than happy to buy into his character for the duration of the film.
The Plummer Family is so generic that it’s not really worth mentioning their individual names – something the writers clearly agreed on as they resorted to having Vin call everyone by code names. The entire cast, however, was likeable and the film does a good job of setting up the fact that their father was never around much anyway, so the fact that he supposedly died (even though they earlier said he was kidnapped) didn’t seem to phase the children at all.
Of course the children – at least the two teenagers, didn’t want Shane in the house, and attempted some half-hearted Home Alone style tricks to get rid of him. Instead, they only succeeded in getting rid of their baby-sitter, Helga (Carol Kane). And thank god, because she was annoying.
The film, directed by Adam Shankman (Bringing Down the House), suggests that children should talk about their grief and show respect for overtaxed parents. But its prevailing lesson, one that will instruct children in the audience and delight their ticket-buying parents, is the value of discipline. “We’re gonna do it my way – no highway option,” the commando commands, when child-stoked chaos threatens his domain. Soon, the children fall in line. With practise, they start enjoying the results of exercise routines, commitments to personal goals and shows of force against bullies.
For those without children to pacify, however, one-and-a-half hours at the cinema for this parable might feel misspent. As Vin Diesel instructs his lazy charges: “You’re burning daylight. Now move!”