June 1, 2005 -- Hunky actor Vin Diesel (“XXX”) is not the first actor you think of as the star of a Disney family comedy. He is better known for playing hard-boiled tough guys in big action films, but he does a surprisingly good job as a tough guy turned baby sitter in “The Pacifier.”
Diesel plays Shane Wolfe, a Navy SEAL who is recruited to protect the family of a scientist who has hidden a deadly secret computer disc somewhere in the family's house. Wolfe's mission is to find the disc and protect the family from harm, but not to let the family know they it is in danger from spies. Wolfe tries to impose strict military-style discipline in the house, but the children naturally rebel.
Wolfe has no experience dealing with children, so he has the usual type of difficulties coping with their antics. The children cover a variety of ages from infant to teenager. Wolfe's “can do” attitude and his military discipline get him through the various crises. Gradually, he begins to like the children and they like him. He becomes a father-figure for them. Of course there are some fight scenes as Wolfe and others fight off the bad guys, but this is primarily a family comedy, not an action film. The primary focus is not the spy story or the action scenes, but the interactions between Wolfe and the kids he is trying to help. The story also packs a surprisingly powerful dramatic punch as Wolfe begins to realize there is a whole side of his personality and his life that has been sadly neglected. This new aspect of his life is tremendously rewarding and he finds he wants to explore it further.
Vin Diesel dives into this role with enthusiasm. He is surprisingly effective as a straight man in a comic role. He is also immensely likeable, and he shows some vulnerability. Also good is Brad Garrett (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) as a wacky wrestling coach, Lauren Graham (“Bad Santa”) as a school principal. The children are also effective. The story is not very believable, but it works well enough for this genre. It is just funny enough to recommend and it has a lot of heart. This film rates a C+.
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