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Adam Shankman
Vin Diesel, Lauren Graham, Faith Ford, Brittany Snow, Max Thieriot, Chris Potter, Carol Kane, Brad Garrett
Writing Credits:
Thomas Lennon, Ben Garant

Prepare for bottle.

Lt. Shane (Vin Diesel) Wolfe is a tough-as-nails Navy SEAL who has controlled military operations in every corner of the globe. Now, the ultimate test comes when he's assigned to protect the home front ... In a house loaded with 5 out-of-control kids! But even when he trades combat gear for diapers and juice boxes, it's not just a babysitting job ... it's an adventure!

Box Office:
$56 million.
Opening Weekend
$30.552 million on 3131 screens.
Domestic Gross
$110.247 million.

Rated PG

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1

Runtime: 95 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 6/28/2005

• Audio Commentary with Director Adam Shankman and Writers Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant
• Deleted Scenes
• Blooper Reel
• ďBrad Garrett: UnpacifiedĒ Featurette
• ďOn Set with Mr. Diesel: Action Hero/Nice GuyĒ Featurette
• Special Ops TV Commercials
• Sneak Peeks


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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The Pacifier (2005)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 14, 2005)

Does anyone else remember when Vin Diesel was a promising young actor? After solid turns in 1998ís Saving Private Ryan and 1999ís Iron Giant, I thought he had the talent and potential to be more than just a big hunk of beef.

Unfortunately, Dieselís subsequent efforts have done little to display more range than one would find from the average frozen carcass of meat. With the receipts for his action extravaganzas on the wane, Diesel decided to alter his image with a comedy, 2005ís The Pacifier.

Apparently this worked. 2004ís violent big-budget Diesel spaz-fest The Chronicles of Riddick yanked in an anemic $57 million, while the more modest Pacifier earned a decent $110 million.

So I guess weíll be stuck with more Diesel efforts in the comedic vein. Though the actor makes the best of it, the relentless mediocrity of the material turns Pacifier into a lifeless experience.

Diesel plays Navy SEAL Lt. Shane Wolfe. He leads a rescue mission that goes awry and ends with the death of Professor Howard Plummer (Tate Donovan), a Department of Defense security expert who created ďGHOSTĒ, a program that scrambles launch codes. Apparently no one knows the whereabouts of Plummerís work but some suspect it may be somewhere in his house. The Navy sends Wolfe to take up residence there to find it and defend Plummerís kids.

An unhappy Wolfe follows orders and takes the assignment. There he meets Plummerís widow Julie (Faith Ford) along with the kids: grade schooler Lulu (Morgan York), teens ZoŽ (Brittany Snow) and Seth (Max Theridt), toddler Peter (Keegan and Logan Hoover) and baby Tyler (Bo and Luke Vink). Julie will split to help the Navy, so thatíll leave Wolfe in the home along with nanny Helga (Carol Kane) and Gary the pet duck.

Wolfe finds a household in disarray, as the kids present little self-discipline. ZoŽ sneaks out to be with her boyfriend Scott and the other kids do what they want. Wolfe tries to change this and runs the home like a military compound. His methods donít exactly endear him to the kids; ZoŽ and Seth take particular offense at his tactics and try to sabotage his efforts.

This backfires when the kidsí drive away Helga instead. This leaves Wolfe alone with the five children, an even more problematic situation when circumstances delay Julieís return. The rest of the movie follows Wolfeís attempts to protect the kids and find GHOST as well as subplots with an obnoxious bully of a vice principal (Brad Garrett) and a sexy principal (Lauren Graham) whose military background makes her perfect for Wolfe.

Despite my complaints about Dieselís wasted potential, he stands as the best thing about Pacifier. Granted, that doesnít say much given the crumminess of so much of the film, but Dieselís relative success surprises me. At least during the scenes when he plays the no-nonsense soldier, he provides an amusing presence since he takes things so seriously. Diesel doesnít wink at the camera, and that attempt at realism means the role works pretty well.

Of course, once Wolfe bonds with the kids and the mushiness begins, all these positives go out the window. Not that Pacifier offered much entertainment up until that point. Despite Dieselís best efforts, the painfully lowest-common-denominator material sinks the flick. I find it tough to select the movieís low point. Could it be the duck who thinks heís a guard dog? Or perhaps the shots of Diesel covered in excrement after a trip into the sewer? But what about the shot in which he pulls a diaperless toddler from a restaurant ďball poolĒ?

The film clunks along at a slow pace and suffers from tedious, obvious exposition. There are far too many shots in which characters explain things solely for the benefit of the audience. Sure, these get out the requisite information, but surely the filmmakers could find more subtle methods. These sequences distract because they make the characters look like dullards. For instance, Wolfe gets a briefing about Plummerís work long after the point when he already would have known about all the details. Those scenes make a bland tale even more difficult to embrace.

The presence of generally unlikable child actors doesnít help. Granted, the kids probably should come across as irritating at first so we can see Wolfe whip them into shape. However, they donít have to be annoying to be undisciplined. Heck, most reasonable people would feel turned off by the presence of some muscle-bound jarhead, so the filmmakers donít need to present the kids as such selfish jerks to make the comedy work.

Pacifier barely qualifies as a movie with a plot. Yes, the quest for GHOST frames the film, but that really exists as a MacGuffin and plays only a minor role in the tale, at least until the end. GHOST acts as an excuse to get Wolfe into the Plummer home and thatís it.

Otherwise the ďplotĒ offers nothing more than loosely-connected story moments. We get one simple skit after another with little to make them coalesce. Thereís not a natural, believable moment to be found in this contrived exercise in stupidity. ďFamily entertainmentĒ doesnít have to be simplistic and moronic, but donít tell that to the makers of The Pacifier.

The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B+/ Bonus C

The Pacifier appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While it boasted some good shots, too much of the movie looked mediocre to merit a high grade.

Largely due to the presence of some notable edge enhancement, sharpness often appeared lackluster. The film never became truly soft, but it usually resided in territory that made it somewhat indistinct. At least jagged edges and shimmering failed to occur, and I noticed no signs of source flaws.

Like the sharpness, colors were acceptable but unspectacular. The movie went with a natural palette and occasionally tossed out some fairly lively tones. However, more than a few shots came across as a bit messy in regard to their tones. Blacks appeared nicely rich, however, and low-light shots were clean and smooth. A mix of the good and the bland, The Pacifier wound up with a less-than-stellar ďB-ď.

Despite its status as a family comedy, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack performed better than expected. That occurred because of the occasional action piece. The movieís opening sequence presented a lively environment with its various vehicles and weapons. Much of the rest of the flick was less ambitious, though scenes like the one with the ninjas and a few other bits brought the spectrum to life. Those elements used all five speakers well and created a nice action setting.

Otherwise the movie stayed firmly in the realm of the standard comedy. Music dominated the non-action scenes with good stereo imaging. The rest of the track tended toward general ambience. The stems fleshed out the track acceptably well for this material.

Across the board, quality seemed strong. Speech came across as concise and crisp, and I noticed no flaws attached to the lines. Music was vibrant and lively, as the score demonstrated good range. Effects followed suit with distinctive highs and tight lows. Bass response worked nicely in all ways, as the low-end was firm. Only a few scenes boasted great liveliness, but the overall impression earned the mix a ďB+Ē.

When we move to the DVDís extras, we start with an audio commentary from director Adam Shankman and writers Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant. All three sit together for a running, screen-specific track. A really screen-specific track, as a matter of fact, as the information almost always relates directly to what we see.

Shankman dominates this piece and spends much of it in comedian mode. His remarks cover a lot of subjects but they almost always feel like minor asides. He concentrates on locations and the minutiae of the shoot. Thus we hear many little tidbits about the babies, the ducks, stunts and other elements, but these get little coverage beyond quick anecdotes.

As for the writers, they tell us that they originally intended Pacifier for Jackie Chan, and they also occasionally note changes to their script. However, they play a small role in the proceedings, as the glib Shankman doesnít leave much room for others. Actually, thatís not true; a moderate amount of dead air occurs, so the writers have a chance to chime in that they donít take.

They do joke with Shankman a lot, and for some folks, that light tone might make the commentary worthwhile. Not for me, however. The participants toss out the occasional amusing quip but most of the witticisms arenít funnier than anything in the movie. Frankly, it seems oddly disrespectful. The trio presents the impression that theyíre above this kiddie nonsense and gleefully make fun of their work. If the movieís no good, why didnít you try to make it better, guys? All of this adds up to an unfocused, uninformative and fairly tedious commentary.

Five deleted scenes last a total of three minutes. These include a chat between Wolfe and Gary the duck, more taunting of Wolfe from the vice principal, a quick shot of Wolfe as he plays kickball and gets called to the principalís office, Sethís wrestling practice, and a confrontation between ZoŽ and the cops. The only one that seems even remotely amusing is the clip in which Brad Garrett goads Diesel. The rest are pointless to painful - a conversation with a duck?

A two-minute and 33-second blooper reel follows. As one might expect, it mostly presents the usual roster of goofiness and mistakes, most of which involve the kids. I must admit itís hard to resist the shot in which a piece of bologna falls on Dieselís bald head, though.

Two featurettes come next. Brad Garrett: Unpacified runs four minutes, four seconds. As one might expect, it focuses on the supporting actor. We get lots of shots from the set and some comments from Garrett and Diesel. Garrett mostly jokes around about his role and his approach to it. Thereís some mild amusement on display here but not much actual information.

After this we find On Set with Mr. Diesel: Action Hero/Nice Guy, a two-minute and 40-second clip. We hear from Shankman, producers Roger Birnbaum and Jonathan Glickman, and actors Lauren Graham, Faith Ford, Brittany Snow and Max Theridt. Mostly they tell us how wonderful Diesel is in this fluffy piece of nothing.

Special Ops TV Commercials presents five ads that fill a total of two minutes, 35 seconds. This is simply a collection of TV promos for the movie.

At the open of The Pacifier, we get some ads. The disc presents promos for Chicken Little, The Chronicles of Narnia, Ice Princess and The Hitchhikerís Guide to the Galaxy. These also appear in the packageís Sneak Peeks area along with clips for According to Jim, Aliens of the Deep and HalloweenTown movies.

Comedy for the easy to amuse, the financial success of The Pacifier makes my teeth hurt. Outside of a game performance from Vin Diesel, thereís almost nothing to like about this idiotic, simplistic attempt at cheap humor. The DVD presents decent picture with very good audio and a minor set of extras. Skip this silly, inane piece of fluff.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.423 Stars Number of Votes: 26
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