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The Pacifier (2005)

Prepare for bottle.

Directed by:

Adam Shankman

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 91 minutes

US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: PG

Country: Canada, United States

With just one month falling between the release of this and xXx: State of the Union, you could say ‘The Pacifier’ represents something of a crossroads for Vin Diesel. Originally, he was due to reprise his role as Xander Cage, xXx’s grunting snowboarder-turned-secret agent in the upcoming mediocre-looking sequel. Instead though, here he is in this one, playing a Navy SEAL who’s assigned to look after a family-load of kiddywinks in a mild, family-friendly Disney romp. Personally, I can’t help but feel that he’s made the right decision.

So far, Diesel’s career as a leading man has seen him move from one clunking, forgettable actioner to the next, building up a reasonable fanbase along the way but always looking in serious danger of ending up stuck in a rut. ‘The Pacifier’ might not exactly be the biggest cinematic triumph of the year (and it’s fair to say you won’t find anyone accusing it of being even remotely original), but at last it’s a chance for the V-Man to show that he’s willing to have a bit of fun with his image, and quite possibly make himself considerably more accessible in the process. It’s a clever move, and even speaking as someone who’s had a fair few digs at His Baldness’ expense in the past, I can’t help hoping it pays-off. After all, as anyone who remembers ‘Kindergarten Cop’ knows, it worked for Arnold Schwarzenegger.

As the muscle-bound (natch) Shane Wolf, the Vinster has to protect the ankle-biters of a murdered security expert. Some baddies are after a top secret computer proggy which they believe to be hidden in the family home, so it’s up to our Shane to turn part-babysitter part-bodyguard – and he does it all armed with little more than some nappies, a live duck, and his pedestrian wit. Oh, okay, so he’s probably got a gun as well, though I can’t actually remember seeing him use it around the young ‘uns.

If you’ve seen anything along the lines of ‘Mr Nanny’, ‘Uncle Buck’, Daddy Day Care or the afore-mentioned Arnie project, then you’ll pretty much know how the whole thing goes – but I have to say I found this much more enjoyable than I was expecting. In amongst all the clichés, there are some genuinely warm and funny moments, and there’s also a great turn from ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’s Brad Garrett as the sprogs’ slightly over-zealous vice principal. Kids – who, let’s not forget, are the target audience here – should find it an entertaining hour-and-a-half, and parents – if they’re anything like me – may well be pleasantly surprised.

It's Got: A duck called Gary. Good name.

It Needs: To be given a chance if your kiddies want to see it. There’s much, much worse out there.

Alternatives:

Daddy Day Care, Kindergarten Cop, Mr Nanny, Uncle Buck

Summary

Not the greatest family comedy ever, but it should be just about entertaining enough to keep your little ‘uns pacified for a while.

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