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THE PACIFIER

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Vin Diesel, Lauren Graham, Faith Ford, Brittany Snow, Max Theiriot, Carol Kane, Brad Garret
Director: Adam Shankman
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Disney
Features: See Review
Length: 96 Minutes
Release Date: June 28, 2005

“And they say war is hell.”

Film **

After you see a particular actor do a certain string of movies pertaining to one genre, it’s always interesting to see them branch out to try something different. In this case, we have hulky action hero Vin Diesel, star of The Fast and the Furious and The Chronicles of Riddick. Diesel has garnered an action hero persona for the last several years, and now he is shifting gears to find a more family-friendly audience in The Pacifier.

With this movie, Diesel is clearly taking the same route Arnold Schwarzenegger took when he made shifts to kinder, gentler comedies such as Twins and Kindergarten Cop. And although those films were no classics by any means, The Pacifier is as least successful. It’s as formulaic as movies get, but I do give Diesel credit for giving it his all.

Diesel plays Shane Wolfe, an expert Navy SEAL who is used to conducting the most high tech forms of rescue operations and underwater exercises. In the aftermath of a botched rescue mission of science professor, Wolfe is handed a new assignment, and one unlike anything he’s had to do before. He now must protect the family of the recently deceased science professor.

While the mother of the family, Julie Plummer (Faith Ford), must go overseas to Switzerland to obtain the contents of her late husband’s safe deposit box, Wolfe must inevitably play babysitter to the five youngsters in the family. From this point on, I pretty much don’t have to reveal anything else, since the average moviegoer can predict the rest of it, since this plot has been played out since the dawning of the live action Disney movie.

Being a tough-fibered man of military action, Wolfe has never had time for anything relating to kids. Needless to say, he doesn’t like them too much. He doesn’t even care to try to learn their names, as he labels them Red 1, Red 2, and all the way down to Red Baby. But soon enough, his lifelong method of never quitting helps motivate the kids to do better in school, defend themselves against bullies, etc.

Watching Vin Diesel, who I’ve enjoyed seeing in action movies, in full game mode for the fish-out-of-water plot scenario is enjoyable. The movie even throws in a few action set pieces, including a fun scene where Wolfe battles two masked ninjas in the family house, using weapons such as a broom and tennis racquet as his only line of defense. A later scene where Wolfe takes on the uptight vice principal/wrestling coach (Brad Garrett) is also fun to watch.

But in the end, The Pacifier is a been-there-seen-that action comedy whose target audience is pretty much anyone under the age of ten. For others, you’ll most likely be bored by most of the movie, especially if you’re looking for something strikingly original. There’s a difference between a formula movie and one that practically spells the formula out on the screen in scene after scene, and The Pacifier falls under the latter category.

Video ****

A superb anamorphic offering from Disney (Full Screen available separately). The image quality is thoroughly clear and crisp, with tremendous level of color to boot. The flesh tones are dynamic and accurate as can be. A pleasant looking presentation.

Audio ****

This action comedy gets a sharp boost from the solid 5.1 mix provided. Everything from music to dialogue delivery to the family friendly action sequences sound nothing short of explosive and terrific. Several set pieces, such as a gymnasium and a children’s restaurant, have some of the audio goods in tact, as well.

Features ***

While not the fully loaded type of disc we’ve come to enjoy from Disney, this release still has some good bonuses to go around. There’s a director’s commentary from Adam Shankman, deleted scenes, a blooper reel, On the set featurettes with Vin Diesel and Brad Garrett, TV commercials and bonus previews, including trailers for the upcoming Disney features, Chicken Little and The Chronicles of Narnia.

Summary:

With The Pacifier, Vin Diesel does do a credible job of being a fish out of water, and it would’ve been more enjoyable had he been in a not-too-familiar by the numbers comedy. The movie has a couple nice scenes, but not enough to erase the sheer familiarity of it all.

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