Friday, March 25, 2005

The Pacifier

THE PACIFIER (Adam Shankman, 2005)

As Navy S.E.A.L. Shane Wolfe, Vin Diesel is assigned to protect five children in THE PACIFIER. Shane couldn’t successfully guard their father, a scientist whose latest invention led to his murder, but he’s determined to keep the kids safe from the bad guys. As he quickly discovers, Shane’s biggest problem may be managing a household of kids ranging from teenager to infant than keeping evildoers at bay.

Like Arnold Schwarzenegger toyed with his tough guy image in KINDGERGARTEN COP and other comedies, Diesel has fun puncturing his movie persona in THE PACIFIER. If only this film weren’t so dopey. Director Adam Shankman, who last made the very popular and very appalling BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE, hasn’t met a joke that can’t be distilled into the broadest form possible. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with the fish out of water element that defines THE PACIFIER, but making Diesel’s character unfamiliar with minivans is a symptom of the screenplay’s preference for dumb, unbelievable jokes. Shankman’s last film played up dubious racial and ethnic stereotypes, and it’s disconcerting to see more of the same in THE PACIFIER. While there’s nothing highly offensive in the film, reducing characters to simplistic ethnic qualities shows lack of imagination at best. THE PACIFIER is funny as an idea but not so much in execution.

Grade: D+

(Review first aired on the March 15, 2005 NOW PLAYING)

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