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'Pacifier': Deadbeat Diesel Dad

By Desson Thomson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 4, 2005; Page WE43

It's not enough that they made "Kindergarten Cop," in which Arnold Schwarzenegger has to go undercover as an elementary schoolteacher to catch a drug dealer. No, they have to roll out Vin Diesel as Shane Wolf, a Navy SEAL who gets wounded on a failed mission to protect a scientist from outside forces. When he recovers, Shane is dispatched to the scientist's home, where he must baby-sit and protect the family from further reprisals. He must also locate a very important disk containing sensitive information believed to be hidden somewhere around the house.

The movie basically consists of Shane's on-the-job training as a suburban den daddy. Cue all the expected gags: baby puke on his shoulder; conflict-prone teenagers with needs, boyfriends and attitude; and a sense that the big guys are coming at any moment. Well, the baddies come all right, dressed as ninjas. They're less scary than the burglars in "Home Alone." With a disk this important, you'd expect a little more trouble. Of course it's a PG movie, but do family audiences deserve stupid and trite stories?

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Diesel, whose acting wouldn't merit a non-speaking, walk-on role in a dinner theater production, is supposed to be a muscular fish out of water. But unlike Schwarzenegger, there's nothing endearing or amusing about his woodenness. He's all splinters. When Diesel switches his macho gun belt for a fanny pack, when are we supposed to start laughing? Sometime during the movie? It's unclear. With no real comedy to enjoy, it's torture to watch Diesel undergo a predictable change from emotionless soldier to loving family man. Makes you want to spit out your pacifier in disgust.

THE PACIFIER (PG, 94 minutes) --Contains slapstick violence and Vin Diesel. Area theaters.

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