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Review: 'Pacifier' will make you wail

By Paul Clinton

Vin Diesel stars as Navy SEAL Shane Wolfe in "The Pacifier."
Vin Diesel
"The Pacifier"

(CNN) -- Halfway through the so-called comedy "The Pacifier," Vin Diesel -- in an ill-conceived effort to save one of his young charges -- jumps into a sewer and becomes covered, head to toe, in human excrement. This scene could be a metaphor for the entire film.

Without doubt the worst film of the year so far, "The Pacifier" is actually painful to watch.

The film begins with a ludicrous scene in which Diesel, as Navy SEAL Shane Wolfe, and his team are trying to save a kidnapped American scientist, Howard Plummer (Tate Donovan) from his Middle Eastern captors. Every action scene cliche in the book is thrown up on the screen in this ridiculously cheesy opening sequence.

Plummer, who has invented a secret weapon, is killed in the operation. Getting knocked off early in this film is the best career move Donovan has made in years. (And this is a guy who's been in "SpaceCamp" and "Swordfish.")

Because the weapon may be stashed in Plummer's home, Wolfe is suddenly assigned to guard the scientist's five children from a possible attack on the house. Meanwhile, Plummer's widow Julie (Faith Ford) goes to Europe with a naval officer to unlock a bank vault in Switzerland where information about the weapon may also be hidden.

Wolfe's job is part baby-sitting job and part military mission. This is supposed to create many hilarious situations -- a SEAL out of water, if you will.

It doesn't.

Diaper jokes

The characters of the three older kids are all cardboard cutouts straight out of a bad sitcom.

There's the oldest daughter, Zoe (Brittany Snow), who's going through a rebellious teenage phase. The 14-year-old son, Seth (Max Thieriot), is withdrawn and sullen. The 8-year-old girl, Lulu (Morgan York), is whiny and needy. The two younger kids, a toddler named Peter and an infant named Tyler, are merely props used to create poopie diaper jokes.

The gags here really make you gag.

This lame premise of a super-macho military guy thrown into domestic chaos in the suburbs is not only predictable, it's insulting to the audience. The script by Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant is obviously a rip-off of Arnold Schwarzenegger's "Kindergarden Cop" and makes that 1990 film look like a cinematic masterpiece.

Adam Shankman, whose main claim to fame is "Bringing Down The House," directs this film with a sledgehammer. Every so-called joke is telegraphed by Western Union and is dead on arrival.

Lauren Graham (TV's "The Gilmore Girls") plays a sappy-sweet principal at the children's school with a blatant crush on Wolfe, and Brad Garrett ("Everybody Loves Raymond") plays a pompous vice principal and wrestling coach. Both have the good sense to appear to be embarrassed to be in this bad comedy sketch disguised as a film.

There's nothing wrong with Vin Diesel trying to broaden his action hero image, but next time he wades into comedy the script should have something going for it beyond a dozen or so poop jokes.

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