[box cover]

The Pacifier

Vin Diesel's in an office, circa 2002. Pitch Black, The Fast and the Furious and xXx have made him a hot property — maybe even the next big action icon. He's meeting with his agent, his lawyer, and a Disney executive, or some combination of all three:

    "So, Vin," one of them says. "You're huge. And that Chronicles of Riddick is gonna be great. But now you need to do a little of that counter-programming."
    "Counter-programming. You need to make a family film to broaden your fan base. Show the critics you're not afraid to play with your heroic image."
    "Like Kindergarten Cop?"
    "What did you have in mind?"
    "How about this: You play a Navy SEAL who has to babysit five kids while you look for a top-secret weapon hidden somewhere in their house."
    "Where are their parents?"
    "Mom's, uh, in Europe or something. The dad was a professor who died on your watch."
    "Are these kids gonna want to be babysat by the guy who let their dad die?"
    "Vin, please. This is a Disney Sunday Movie of the future. These kids will barely be grieving."
    "Huh. So what happens?"
    "All kinds of funny stuff. We'll recycle some Three Men and a Baby jokes. You put your hand in a poopy diaper. You ride a girl's bicycle. You strap on juice boxes like they were weapons. You direct the son in a production of The Sound of Music. A little girl will ask if her boobs will be as big as yours one day. Oh, and you fight ninjas. Maybe the family will have a pet duck or something."
    "He could bite me on the ear."

The rest, unfortunately, is history. Riddick failed to make Vin the action icon he so desperately wants to be — which means he really has no image worth spoofing in The Pacifier. And the movie stinks in most other respects. (Though, to be fair, it's nice to see Mr. Diesel freed of the empty action strutting that killed Riddick. In fact, the aforementioned ninja fight is actually easier to follow that any of Riddick's over-edited brawls.) The jokes are lame and the movie suffers from undisciplined story structure. That and it's so cheaply produced it makes Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London look like a Bond film. And to those who would argue, "Hey, it's only a kid's movie": The first Spy Kids, to name one recent example, proved that all-ages entertainment can be funny, sharp, and well-produced on the cheap. Maybe The Rock's eventual family comedy will be better…  Buena Vista's DVD release of The Pacifier offers a solid anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras include five deleted scenes with a "play all" feature and an outtakes reel (2 min.). Keep-case.
M.E. Russell

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