When Sergeant plays mother

The Pacifier revolves around the trials of a military man who has to look after five unruly kids, writes Ervell. E. Menezes

A still from The Pacifier
A still from The Pacifier

Hollywood resorts to the same formulae. It eeks of lack of imagination. In Raising Helen it was a single professional woman having to look after a brood of unruly children belonging to her sister. In that 1960s comedy Yours, Mine and Ours it was his children, her children (of previous marriages) and their children but then the subject was fresh. In The Pacifier you have a military man being asked to play a mother of five unruly children because she has to look into the affairs of her dead scientist husband.

With your eyes close you can envisage the action. Van Diesel is an action star last seen as a Navy S.E.A.L. So it means that this guy used to jumping out of planes, dropping down cliffs and karate-ing the bad guys suddenly has to change diapers, clean potty and handler teenagersí problems, quite alien to his line of work. Funny? If you think so.

There are five Plummer (so named because of the reference to The Sound of Music in which Christopher Plummer played a key role) children in his care, range from the defiant teenage Zoe (Brittany Snow) to the budding actor Seth (Max Thierot) and the cute but precocious Lulu (Morgan York), the devilish Peter and baby Tyler.

Thereís an eccentric housekeeper too. Zoe would rather chew her arm than take orders from Shane Wolfe (Diesel). Seth too shows a good deal of attitude but all this will change when our man Shane adopts the sergeant formula. Again, with your eyes closed you can picture the action.

Whatís more, the school principal (Lauren Graham) is another disciplinarian.

"Honour, courage, commitment, the way I run my school," she says and has also seen army service like Shane but her vice-principal (Brad Garrett) is as dumb as a dodo and only depends on his brawn. So, the Big Five are tossed between these two in school and Shane at home in an exercise of discipline. The fare is yet another piece of American pie, predictable, slapstick (revelling in breaking wind) and boring. That Shane eventually has to resort to kindness and love is also predictable but allows for some touching moments.

The asides of the "dollar" films with the Ennio Morricone music is cute and so is the regurgitating of that classic The Sound of Music but these are proverbial grains of wheat in bushels of chaff. Director Andy Shankman could go through the motions with his eyes closed, and probably does. The international spy chain over the scientistís death contributes to more action even though the plot is far too simplistic. So, Van Diesel fans (if he has any in India) could suffer through it but The Pacifier is surely not what it says. It is 100 minutes of alleged action-comedy which is as boring as they come.