When Navy SEAL, Shane Wolfe, fails in his mission to rescue and protect Professor Howard Plummer, he is assigned the new task of looking after the dead man’s five children while their mother goes to Zurich to unlock a safety deposit box. While guarding the children, he must also look for a mysterious device called ‘Ghost’ which is thought to be hidden somewhere in the house. Having no previous experience with children, Wolfe must learn quickly if he is to gain their respect and keep them safe from those who wish to find the ‘Ghost’ device first.

The Pacifier (2005) – Director: Adam Shankman

Is The Pacifier appropriate for kids

Rating: PG

Running Length: 95 mins

Starring: Vin Diesel, Brittany Snow, Max Thieriot

Genre: Comedy, Action

REVIEW

After taking on so many ‘hard man’ roles, Vin Diesel took the unusual decision to star in a comedy kids movie. While the role he plays isn’t exactly a long way apart from his previous films, it is nice to see a slightly lighter and warmer side to his personality. This kind of movie is by no means new; Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ‘Kindergarten Cop’ is perhaps the definitive of the genre and Jackie Chan was another huge star to take on the mantel in ‘The Spy Next Door’ (which we review here). While ‘The Pacifier’ doesn’t bring anything new to the table, it is light-hearted family fun.

By having the personalities of five kids to deal with, ‘The Pacifier’ could quite easily become irritating, especially with the two teenagers, Zoe and Seth (played by Brittany Snow and Max Thieriot respectively). Fortunately, while there are a few attitudes to deal with, they are never over-done and the dynamic between Diesel and the kids quickly becomes friendly and believable. One criticism to be made would be that the presence of the nanny, Helga, is not really necessary. She doesn’t add anything to the story and, as she leaves relatively early on in the film and doesn’t reappear until the end, it is unclear why she was there in the first place. What director, Shankman, has managed to do is make a kids movie that can be thoroughly enjoyed by parents, if for no other reason than to see Vin Diesel singing and dancing to ‘The Peter Panda Song’.

IS ‘THE PACIFIER’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

Make no mistake, ‘The Pacifier’ is a kids film and will therefore be appropriate for kids of most ages. However, we would like to highlight a few instances of content which parents of young children may wish to be aware of.

During an action packed opening scene, Wolfe and his team board a boat where Serbian rebels are holding Professor Plummer. A few disc-shaped bombs are thrown onto the deck which explode and send several men flying overboard. A little while later, two men on jet-ski’s crash into each other, causing a huge explosion. When he and Plummer get to the helicopter which will take them to safety, Wolfe touches the shoulder of the pilot who slumps forward, dead. There are then two gunshots heard and on the second, Wolfe falls backwards as he has been shot. While a few deaths and injuries are implied during this scene, it is handled delicately with no blood or gore and should therefore not be too distressing for children.

Later in the movie, Wolfe is called in to see the principal of the school (which the children attend) due to issues with Seth’s behaviour. It is revealed that he has recently bleached his hair blonde and a Nazi armband with a swastika on it has been found in his locker; he is therefore suspected of being a Nazi sympathiser. Later, when Seth sneaks out of the house, Wolfe follows him and it appears that Seth has joined a Nazi gang as he approaches three young men in Nazi style uniforms. However, when Wolfe continues to follow Seth into a building, he finds out what is really happening.

The Vice Principal of the school, Dwayne Murney, clearly doesn’t like Seth or Wolfe and, as he is the coach of the wrestling team, sees himself as a tough guy. After challenging Wolfe to a wrestling match (an offer which is initially declined), he annoys Wolfe so much that he accepts the challenge. Each time Murney tries to attack, Wolfe easily avoids it, turning the moves against him which incapacitates his opponent every time. Murney tries to hurt Wolfe with a move called the ‘nipple crippler’ but it has no effect. By the end, Murney needs help to stand and is barely able to move. However it is clear that Wolfe hasn’t caused Murney any long-term damage and as he is a bully, this is his come-uppance and it is unlikely to cause much upset to kids.

One scene shows that the oldest child, Zoe, is struggling to cope with the loss of her father. She is crying and explains to Wolfe that she has tried to stay strong for her mother and siblings but is unable to cope with the burden. Wolfe then explains his childhood to her which was also difficult and the two are able to bond over this. It is a very poignant scene which brings a touch of real life to the movie and while not being distressing, could upset a few kids, especially any who may be going through a similar situation.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?

VERDICT

The Pacifier’ is definitely a family friendly movie. There is plenty of innocent comedy to make both kids and adults laugh and will therefore be an entertaining film to watch on a rainy day. We feel that this movie is more appropriate for kids aged 6 and over due to the serious (but delicately handled) themes of Plummer being killed and bad people wanting to cause harm in order to get what they want.

  • Violence:  2/5 (the opening scene has some mild violence. There is also a slapstick-style kung-fu fight at the family home and the villain, who is revealed at the end, is quite threatening)
  • Emotional Distress: 2/5
  • Fear Factor: 1/5
  • Sexual Content: 0/5       
  • Bad Language: 1/5 (infrequent mild blasphemy. The words ‘farted’ and ‘skanky’ are used once each)
  • Dialogue: 1/5 (One of the younger children, Lulu, asks Woolfe why his ‘boobs’ are so big, to which he replies ‘they’re not boobs’. She also asks if he has ‘ever punched someone so hard their head came off’. Lulu is also a member of a girl scout type group called the ‘Fireflies’ who are routinely bullied by boy scouts. In order to be threatening, one of the boys asks another ‘what do you put in a jar and shake ‘til their dead?’ to which his friend replies ‘Fireflies’)
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of family, protecting those you care about, knowing when to let someone stand up for themselves, understanding and believing in someone.

Words by Laura Record

 

The Pacifier [DVD]


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