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Diesel’s talent fails to pacify average film

Mark Bemenderfer | Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Hollywood seems to be getting stale. At least that’s the conclusion some will gather from watching “The Pacifier,” action star Vin Diesel’s attempt at a Disney comedy. Cute, family-oriented and utterly predictable, “The Pacifier” is good for some, but most would find themselves bored while watching it.Diesel plays Shane Wolfe, a disgraced Navy S.E.A.L. agent who is assigned the unfortunate task of protecting the Plummer family while trying to find a hidden experiment. The family is under attack from the enemies of the deceased father, and only Diesel stands in the way. That is, if the family will let him.The family under watch features children of all ages, from adolescents to infants. The audience is treated to all the obvious humor associated with the “unwilling babysitter” genre of films. Diesel is forced to deal with the problems of a teenager one second, and the next finds himself changing an infant’s diaper. Of course, the children do not welcome Diesel with open arms. They make life difficult for him at the beginning, but as the film progresses they warm up to him – nothing new here.Like other films in this genre, Diesel tries to treat the problems he encounters in a way similar to how he was trained, i.e. in a military discipline fashion. Logically, that doesn’t work, and he begins to lighten up. Eventually, the kids grow to love him and vice versa.The plot doesn’t need to be delved into too deeply, as it really isn’t that original. Movies like “Kindergarten Cop” have explored the comedy in this situation before, to better effect in most scenarios. Any movie that places a tough guy into a family role typically has many of the same moments, and “The Pacifier” is no different. Fans of the film will probably come from two main camps. The first consists of those looking for light family fare, which this is. The second consists of people who watch the Disney channel in their free time. Both of these groups would probably love this film. “The Pacifier” knows its core audience and doesn’t do too bad of a job playing to it. However, it doesn’t quite make the leap to a film with appeal for all ages.Hard-core Diesel fans may also get some laughs from this light-hearted film. He does add some charisma to the role and does a decent job acting with children. But he’s still no Schwarzenegger.Diesel has pretty much only been cast in one role in the past. Ever since his work in “Pitch Black,” he’s been tagged as primarily an action star. He has the build, the scowl and exudes a certain charisma – all qualities that propelled his star image. Casting him as Wolfe plays against his established screen character, considering his previous roles. However, this movie was originally made with Jackie Chan in mind, and Diesel doesn’t have the charisma that Chan does.This movie is clearly aimed for families. If family films are one’s primary preference, it’s not a bad option to see “The Pacifier” compared to the other movies currently out in theatres. Of course, with “Robots” opening this weekend, there are some welcome alternatives.