The Pacifier

Vin Diesel flushes whatever is left of his career after multiple failures by starring in the new Alpha Male takes care of kid’s comedy, The Pacifier. Till now I’ve been Vin’s biggest defender. I love his Riddick character, and am one of the few fans Chronicles of Riddick has. I had a great time with xXx and stand by the positive review I gave it, primarily because of the charisma Vin Diesel exudes whenever he’s on screen. The guy has something, but except for a tidy box office take for xXx, he’s been a financial and critical failure. Predicted for years now as the next big action star (when perhaps he should be focusing more on serious acting), it looks like Vin has simply given up and decided to take a paycheck. Say what you will about his other movies, but those were films which he legitimately believed in. They gave him a format to do his thing, whether that worked or not, Vin Diesel was giving it his best shot. But The Pacifier is a horrible movie in a genre of horrible movies in which Vin Diesel is horrifically miscast. I feel certain this isn’t a project he believed in; it’s more of a surrender. It’s like the big bald guy is simply giving up and taking whatever might be thrown at him to corral as much money before his last few gasps of fame completely wear out. At this point I’m not sure I blame him, but that doesn’t mean I’d want to sit through his family friendly cash in.

The film puts Diesel in the role of a macho Navy Seal forced to baby sit a bunch of kids for the government. The setup to get you there is pretty flimsy, but the movie starts with Vin Diesel on a beach coordinating a Navy Seal rescue operation like he’s coaching the Dallas Mavericks in their first game of the playoffs. If the Navy Seals actually operated anything like that, we’d have been overrun by the Cuban army years ago. Assuming they have an army. Doesn’t matter, a couple of Cuban farmers on a homemade raft could easily defeat an army “coached” by Shane Wolfe, Vin Diesel’s commando character.

Part of the problem there and throughout the entire film is that Diesel just doesn’t fit the character. He’s supposed be a Schwarzenegger-type badass, but dammit if he doesn’t look like he’d give a nice, warm, friendly hug if you asked for one. Even his name is a bit of a softie. Guys named Shane are surfers, or gay cabaret dancers, not super-muscled, elite military killers. Sure, Vin has a large set of muscles, but even in his darkest, loudest screaming moments he seems like a pretty nice guy. In fact, with a little training you could see him as a pretty decent father, and indeed that’s exactly what he becomes.

Exposition over, Shane ends up babysitting five kids whose family is threatened by bad people. Their father invented some sort of super-something that those evil people want, and though the evil people already killed their father, the bad guys are threatening the entire family. Rather than bring in a real military detail to keep them safe, Shane is sent to live with them, conveniently leaving his guns behind. I guess there’s some sort of unwritten rule that guns cannot be used in the suburbs, since most of the bad guys don’t use them either, preferring kung fu ninja moves and black, flimsy batons.

Now here’s where the movie gets funny, because you see Shane doesn’t know anything about kids! He’s a guy, and a badass guy (though again, he looks like he’d give a good hug) and so when he has to take care of kids, well all kinds of wacky, fish out of water, better the tenth time I saw it in Kindergarten Cop things happen. Also, there is a duck. Ducks are really funny animals, second only to monkeys in making funny movies even funnier. The Pacifier just doesn’t work. The fish out of water elements fall flat because Diesel never looks all that out of his element. When the good old Govinator did this sort of movie, it worked on that level because Arnie really does seem like a hulking badass. He manages that without any effort, because he’s simply Arnold, and brings with him visions of Terminators, Conan the Barbarians, and Hans and Franz. Diesel carries none of that with him into the picture and thus completely fails to capture any of that necessary dynamic upon which The Pacifier is trying so desperately to build. He doesn’t have the attitude, the persona, or the career to justify it. Maybe if they’d put him in his Riddick outfit and let him slaughter a few neighbors that might have done it, but as it is, the fish out of water element is completely lost.

So say you dropped Governor Arnold or Sly “I make reality shows based on my movies now” Stallone into this movie. Would that fix it? Forget it. The thing still falls apart simply because it isn’t offering anything new. The Pacifier sports adult interacting with kid jokes that have been kicking around in theaters for years. We’ve seen this movie a hundred times, and beyond the addition of an attack duck and some Nazi memorabilia, there’s nothing here that hasn’t been done before and done a thousand times better. The entire film feels like a set of stock footage cut together in a slightly new order and sold as a brand new movie. It isn’t. Kindergarten Cop, Mr. Nanny, The Pacifier, they’re all the same movie. This one only differentiates itself by being the absolute worst. If not for a few real gems like The School of Rock, I’d be good and ready to pronounce the kids interacting with dazed adults genre officially dead.