Vin Diesel has emptied so many full diapers of movie doo-doo on unsuspecting audiences — what else would you call The Chronicles of Riddick, A Man Apart and XXX? — that you almost can’t blame him for returning to the cradle to reinvent himself as a terminator with a heart of marshmallow. Look, Arnold Schwarzenegger did it with Kindergarten Cop, which led to more juvenile crap (Junior, Jingle All the Way) and ultimately a career in politics. If Diesel has his eye on the governor’s mansion, The Pacifier is the right career step. It should get him out of the movie business on the double.
Diesel, looking like the Brawny paper-towel guy, plays Shane Wolfe, a Navy commando assigned to guard five kids and a duck (yes, I said duck) from the hands of generic villains who — saints be praised — don’t use guns. This is PG territory. The jokes in the script, by Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant, are meant to force us to love the big lug. And director Adam Shankman (Bringing Down the House) makes sure that Diesel goes Disney with a vengeance. See Vin cringe as he changes a diaper. Ooh! See Vin get pecked by the family duck. Ah! See goo-goo cliches that drool on and on.
What matters about all this is that Diesel once showed genuine talent. Watch his haunted soldier in Saving Private Ryan, his rabid stockbroker in Boiler Room, his menacing ex-con in Pitch Black and even his street racer in The Fast and the Furious, which qualifies as a guilty pleasure. There is no pleasure, guilty or otherwise, to be found in The Pacifier. It just plain sucks.