The Pacifier review

One hundred million at the US box office? Well, there's an audience for The Pacifier, make no mistake. But remember this before you stump up the readies to see Vin Diesel riding a girl's bike, changing nappies and getting bitten by a duck. That $100 million breaks down as follows: frazzled parents + moppets-who-don't-know-better = $95 million. Vin Diesel completists ("Chronicles Of Riddick rocks, dude!") = $5, 999, 992. Proud owner of Arnie's unofficial kid-com trilogy (Kindergarten Cop, Junior, Jingle All The Way) = $8.00...

Opening with a mechanical pre-credit action sequence involving a chopper, a boat and several jet skis, The Pacifier works hard and fast to set up its premise: gruff Navy SEAL turns suburban babysitter. Make that hard, fast and loose, the scriptwriters getting rid of the sprogs' parents by killing their dad during said mechanical pre-credit action sequence and shipping Mom off to Geneva to open his safety deposit box. Only she doesn't know the password. And the nice men at the bank let her keep on guessing. For two whole weeks.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch... The kids, inevitably, are a handful - two stroppy teens, two messy moppets and a squawky, squitty baby. Diesel, naturally, bellows and growls - until he learns to cajole and coo, to open his heart. Then the film, predictably, softens and disintegrates - out goes the Home Alone-style thwackstick violence, in come the hugs and kisses as everyone makes up.

If there's any joy to be had, it's in watching Diesel gamefully chip away at his granite image. Warming milk and tidying up soft toys is one thing, but allowing the kiddiewinks to giggle at his "boobs"? Performing a "panda dance" to send a nipper to sleep? And gleefully positing himself as The Pacifier's answer to Julie Andrews' homely nun in The Sound Of Music (a movie that's referenced throughout)? Now that takes guts. It's just a shame there aren't any belly laughs to go with 'em.

Formulaic, infrequently funny action-comedy aimed at the anklebiters. Vin Diesel's a sport but Pitch Black seems a galaxy away.

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