Vin Diesel, how far ye hath fallen. After “Saving Private Ryan,” “Pitch Black,” and even “The Fast & The Furious,” Diesel was prepped to become the next big action star. But after a string of critical and financial flops like “A Man Apart” and “The Chronicles of Riddick” he was in dire need of a big hit. One would think he would pick something easy and good that would still revive his career. Instead, he flies right in the face of the old Hollywood rule that says you should never work with animals or children.
Diesel plays a Navy SEAL who fails in his mission to rescue a government scientist. After a speedy recovery, he is assigned to protect the children of the assassinated scientist as well as the highly coveted top-secret projects he was working on. The family, of course, contains every clich?d member: the sassy teenage girl, rebellious teenage boy, precocious little girl, a toddler, a baby and a pet duck. While this allows “The Pacifier” (Walt Disney Pictures) to appeal to a wide audience of children, it unfortunately makes the humor sophomoric. There’s only so many poop and vomit jokes one person can take. After that, all that remains are weak attempts at fish-out-of-water-type gags and scenes that build up expectations but ultimately disappoint.
The script definitely had issues, which is surprising, especially coming from such great comedic minds as Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant of “The State” and “Reno 911!” The main plot of the bodyguard protecting the family and the government secrets acts as a skeleton for numerous sub-plots, some of which are completely useless, making the film longer than it should be and distracting the viewer from the main plot.
I know Vin Diesel was looking for some quick cash out of this movie, but he could’ve at least tried to do a good job while doing so. He’s not a fantastic actor, but especially in the first half of the movie, he’s completely emotionless – delivering lines as though he’s reading off the page. Eventually, he grows into the character, but it was painful to watch his performance at first.
He’s supposed to be a badass soldier who’s stuck babysitting a family, and while he plays that aspect up at times, he can’t shake his soft side. The television actor-filled supporting cast doesn’t help much, either unimpressive or lacking sufficient screen time.
The movie seems more fitting on the Disney Channel than on the big screen. It appeals to that channel’s demographic and the lackluster script are better fit to a television movie. Vin Diesel, however, immediately needs to find a movie that can revive his career. Any movie that features a scene with him covered in sewage must be avoided at all costs. And Vin – stay away from animals and children, they destroyed Eddie Murphy’s career and they’ll get you too.
“The Pacifier” opens in Washington, D.C. Friday.