The Pacifier (7/10)
by Tony Medley
This had all the indications of
a long evening. The story, a tough, U.S. Navy S.E.A.L., has to take over
as babysitter for five children, ranging from an infant in arms to two
feisty, troubled teenagers while their mother goes off for awhile. Add to
that, it‘s directed by Adam Shankman, who was responsible for “Bringing
Down the House” (2004), not one of my favorite films.
Against all odds, this is a
delightful, involving comedy with a little suspense and action thrown in.
Vin Diesel is surprisingly sensitive and comedic as hard-as-nails warrior
Shane Wolfe. He’s ably supported by the children, notably 14-year-old Seth
(Max Thieriot), the troubled teenager who wants to be an actor, teen rebel
Zoe (Brittany Snow, of TV’s “American Dreams”) who doesn’t like Shane
messing up her life, and 8-year-old Ninja-wannabe Lulu (Morgan York).
For me, however, one of the
keys to the movie was Carol Kane, who plays Helga, the family’s eastern
European nanny. Although Helga is only in the first part of the film, her
role is crucial in establishing this as a real comedy and not just
nonsense. She has a part that could be absurd, but in her hands it is very
funny, except for one pratfall down the stairs that I thought ill-advised
to show to children. Someone falling down stairs like that could easily
die or be horribly injured for life. That’s not something that should be
shown to children as comedic, especially since the fall was as a result of
the children’s prank.
Another key to the film is
provided by Brad Garrett, better known as Ray Romano’s older brother on
TV’s “Everybody Loves Raymond.” Garrett plays one of the heavies, Vice
Principal Murney, who picks on Seth and gets his comeuppance in a
wrestling confrontation with Shane. The Vice Principal is delightfully
One thing I didn’t understand
is why they changed the format of the marching song, “Sound Off.” When you
are marching drill in the service, the song goes,
Sound off, one,
Sound off, three,
Cadence Count, one,
two, three, four
One, two, THREE
In the movie, however, Shane
has the children sing it as, “Sound off, one two, three four.” For anyone
like Shane it would be an unlikely rendering. But it would be naïve to
expect any young Hollywood writer or director to know anything about drill
in the U. S. Armed Services.
This movie, approximately 90
minutes long, held my attention, kept me smiling, and even had a nice
climax. At my screening, which had a lot of children even though it was an
evening event, the audience gave it enthusiastic appreciative applause
after it ended.
March 1, 2005