Navy SEAL veteran Shane Wolfe is assigned to rescue a scientist who has created a great weapon, one the US doesn’t want to fall into the wrong hands. The mission doesn’t go as planned, however, and ends with a wounded Shane and a dead scientist.
Shane’s not about to stay down long, though. Unaccustomed to failure, the special ops man is ready for immediate action, but his superior has a different plan for Wolfe. It’s operation suburbia. See, the scientist who was killed has a wife and 5 kids, and until The Ghost is found, they could be in grave danger.
Despite Shane’s momentary shock at becoming a glorified baby sitter, he’s confident he can take care of Mrs. Plummer’s 2 teenagers, 8-year-old Girl Scout, toddler, and baby. After all, he’s directed how many high risk missions across the world before? What Shane learns is that kids don’t tend to fall in line the way he expects, and the soccer mom lifestyle is anything but easy. But maybe it’s a life he could grow used to.
Shane is a good guy who is ready to do his job and put his life on the line for others, specifically the rowdy Plummer kids. Over time Shane learns to genuinely care for the kids under his protection, and not just look at them as numbers (we start the movie off with the Plumers being labeled Red 1, Red 2, Red 3, Red 4, and Red Baby). Over the course of the movie relationships are built, and Shane helps the kids overcome their grief, confusion, and anger. “If you listen to me, I’ll listen to you” Shane says, striking up a truce with the kids after his first harrowing days as their care giver. He also makes an effort to connect with each child, attempting to temporarily fill the void left by the death of their father. This is really what makes the movie. The humor and the relationships between Shane and the kids.
We see Shane encourage Seth (teenage son) to stand up for himself and never quit, teaching him that playing sports, specifically wrestling, doesn’t make you a man. He tells Seth to pursue the things that he’s passionate about, and not worry what other people might think.
With hormonal teenage Zoe, Shane plays friend and confidant, helping her work through the grief she has towards the loss of her Dad, allowing her to talk about her feelings and comforting her. Shane also helps her relationally, believing that she deserves a boyfriend who actually respects her, as well as friends who are willing to stick by her and care about her personally.
Lulu and Shane become friends fast, despite the girl’s minor crush on him, and Shane teaches her the finer points of self defense when the rival boy scouts begin to harass her and her friends. In addition, Shane makes it clear that he loves Lulu, and she holds a special place in his heart.
With Peter, Shane sings and dances, despite his embracement in the beginning, the Peter Panda Dance for little Peter each night, helping him go to sleep. Shane takes the little boy everywhere, often holding his hand. We see over the weeks that Shane is endearing himself to Peter, most specifically when the little boy calls him Daddy as Shane tucks him in at night towards the end of his stay, causing some conflicting emotions within Shane.
As for the baby, Shane demonstrates his love in the way he cares for “red baby”. He changes the diapers he loathes, he carts the baby around with him everywhere, often holding him fondly or strapping him in a pack on his chest. And Shane’s biggest demonstration of love is when he offers himself up to the bad guys instead of Mrs. Plummer, remarking that “these kids don’t need to lose another parent.”
Though the Plummer kids have their typical sibling spats, their love for one another is expressed both verbally and physically. Zoe tells Shane how she’s tried to be emotionally strong for the sake of her entire family. In fact, the older kids often help protect the younger ones, and they all work together for the common good. The family also (eventually) shows Shane respect and appreciation. Shane deserves it and does a great job of “laying down the law” at the initially chaotic Plummer house, setting loving boundaries, instructing the kids on the virtues of self-respect and obedience.
One of my favorite aspects of the movie, though, was the fact that moms are respected in this movie. As Shane has to fulfill the role of Mrs. Plummer as she is away trying to help the military get a hold of The Ghost he husband designed, he learns that her job as a stay at home mom is not only hard work, but meaningful work. It’s never downplayed and it’s never treated lightly, even when the humor gets you rolling.
The biggest issue with the film would be language. While not terrible, we do have a handful of the Lord’s name in vain, as well as a couple of h exclamations. In addition, we have typical teenage lingo such as bite me.
Sexual content is pretty mild. Lulu crassly comments on Shane’s pecs a couple of times, one time carrying on a rather unnecessary discussion which makes Shane a bit uncomfortable. We also have a scene where Shane is seen in a towel. Zoey dresses as a typical teen and is also seen in her boyfriend’s lap at a party.
For the first part of the movie, the kids take their frustrations out on Shane and frequently disrespect and defy him, but that quickly dies away and is not the focus of the film. Diaper humor is frequently used, but it is in reguards to the fact that Shane is unaccustomed to baby care, making it a rather humorous type of potty humor, as opposed to being offensive. It is worth noting, though, that we catch a brief glimpse of a baby’s bottom from the side as Shane dunks him in the toilet to try and clean up the mess.
A disturbing, though mild, element of the movie is the fact that, while Seth does heckle his vice principal a bit, the vice principle goes out of his way to make life miserable for Seth. From name-calling (most specifically The Creeper) to allowing Seth to be bullied by members of the wrestling team, the vice principal abuses his prerogative as an authority to. Merny also makes fun of Shane for being assigned to baby-sit the Plummer kids, but Shane makes sure that, in the end, Merny is put in his place.
Violence is very mild, despite the fact that this is a Vin Diesel movie. There are a couple of explosions which are simply there for effect and not gore. There are a few punches thrown, gun shots heard, and a couple scuffles between good guys and bad guys, but all is very tame. We also see the kids end up using whatever means necessary to escape their attackers and get help for Shane, hitting a man in the face with a fire extinguisher (used for humor more than anything, when a man asks Seth it that’s all he’s got). Oh yeah, and Zoe is a reckless driver, most notably in the car chase near the end of the movie, and specifically tries to get the cops to chase after her car and follow her to the house in order to save Shane.
It’s a comedy, so the focus is on making you laugh, not telling a deep story. That said, the story itself is still full of lots of good things. Discipline is portrayed as a good thing, moms are valued, respect and love go hand in hand, the good guys are good, and the bad guys are bad. For these reasons, my family loves watching this movie, most specifically when we just need to laugh. My mom still cracks up over watching Vin Diesel trying to change a baby’s diaper with a pair of tongs.
If you don’t like movies that are designed specifically for entertainment value, and only watch movies for deep hidden truths and life changing messages, then this movie won’t be up your alley. But, if you like to laugh and can’t ever find a comedy that avoids a lot of the questionable content that goes with comedies, then The Pacifier may just be what you are looking for.