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‘The Pacifier’ Film Review: Pacifying the action into comedy

Vin Diesel stars as the big wholesome guy in this Disney family flick.

“The Pacifier” utilizes that same old tale about a tough guy tasked to take care of a bunch of rebellious kids. Flawed as it is, this feel-good movie still delivers an easy, goodwill charm for its target audience.

Although this light and glossy motion picture is a completely recycled piece, it promotes more than a couple of laughs, most of which are reminiscent of the “Home Alone” stints. It tries to capitalize on Vin Diesel’s action-star appeal for its first part. After some serious action scenes, the plot readily shifts to a comedy as his character, Navy SEAL Shane Wolfe, fails on a mission to protect a key government scientist. In his attempt to redeem himself by taking care of the scientist’s children, the turn of events reveals that the scientist’s wife (Faith Ford) tries to discover the secret plans of her late husband in a foreign land, which would further complicate things for the family. Meanwhile, Shane uses his military skills for his newfound assignment — babysit the Plummer kids, and at the same time, work as a family driver and bodyguard. In no time, he realizes that what has become his greatest challenge turns out to be caring for the rebel teen Zoe (Brittany Snow), the insightful dreamer Seth (Max Thieriot), the Ninja wannabe Lulu (Morgan York), the weirdo toddler Peter, and the cute baby Tyler.

The movie’s main source of comedy is how Shane applies his military persona into the domestic battlefield and the irony of him physically losing over the typical gags on changing a baby’s diaper, dealing with an adolescent’s rebellious side, yielding to a little boy’s bizarre ways, and trying to fit in the needs of the rest of the little Plummer brats. He extends his unlikely tasks to even teaching a lesson to a bullying high school vice principal and directing the musical play “The Sound of Music.”

The narrative requires extreme characterizations without putting a heavy load on the plot. Most characters, though igniting audience laughs and chuckles every once in a while, turn out quite overacting and unrealistic.

The predictable script relies pretty much on corny gags. The subplot involving the search for the dead scientist’s secret experiment, which, in the wrong hands, could spell great disaster, is not given much attention. This could have been a good source for suspense and creativity in the storytelling. Nevertheless, this movie’s mainstream formula actually works for its generic family fare requirement. Its insights on family dynamics still bring some effective weight to the presentation. Its escapist feel makes it a considerably fine material for the not so demanding viewers who simply want to kill some time with a comedy flick.

He may not be the pioneer in this career shift from action to comedy by “big men,” but Vin Diesel pulls off a decent comedic performance in this family picture. Interestingly, he doesn’t need a lot of effort to get that needed charm for the narrative’s comedic side. Humanizing his action skills from bloated action blockbusters to the movie’s flipside requirements becomes easily acceptable for this offering’s target market.

Rianne Hill Soriano
Rianne is a director, writer, educator, and consultant in film and commercial productions. From mainstream essentials to independent flair, she knows the drill in making entertaining and well-meaning productions. She can lead a pack passionate about extreme action and technological edge; she can breathe an endearing and sentimental style for a team with a sweet disposition.

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