Posts Tagged ‘ Walt Disney Pictures ’

Remember the Titans

remember_the_titansBased heavily on a real life drama, Remember the Titans is a story set in 1971 Virginia, amidst the tension of forced integration between black and white schools.

Denzel Washington plays coach Boone, a no-nonsense taskmaster sent to Williams High (the white school that the black school is integrating into) to replace the leadership of the much loved white coach Yoast. Despite their difference in coaching styles, and the less than ideal circumstances in which they are placed, these two men must battle their own pride and bigotry in order to lead their team of athletes not only on the field in victory, but also through the turmoil of life and a divided community.

Positive Elements

I’m really not sure where to begin because honestly, this is one of the best movies I have seen in years. I’m not sure how this beautiful movie (and the real-life story) managed to evade me for so long!

Remember the Titans is a spectacular, powerful film that shows virtuous behavior, projects an old-fashioned respect for discipline, teaches integrity, honors the Christian faith, and depicts real character-building lessons throughout the movie.

We see coaches stand up to corruption and make choices as to whether they want to be men of integrity, or whether they are willing to compromise what is right in order to get what they really want. We see an injured player refuses to wallow in self-pity. We see boys become men, learn about real friendship, undergo tremendous personal growth—even minor characters experience growth.

The real focus of this film (character-wise) centers on the shoulders of Coach Yoast and Coach Boone, two men who were as extraordinary in real life, as they were in the film. However, this movie was filled with many other great characters, especially when it came to the boys on the football team. However, my favorite duo (besides the coaches) were Gary and Julius, two young men that start out the movie with nothing but hatred towards one another for the color of their skin, but quickly learn to respect one another and become much more than just fellow teammates. These two boys also provide great opportunity to discuss the type of team leadership that’s necessary to bring guys together for a common cause.

Negative Elements

This film has no drug content, no sexual content, no crud humor, and next to no violence (other than the typical bruising that comes with the football turf). In fact, the only negative elements to this movie are as follows:

According to Walt Disney Studios chair Peter Schneider, Titans underwent severe rewrites after the script was brought to him. In the original script, every third word was the n-word, every fourth word was the f-word, and every sixth word was the s-word, which didn’t fly. Before the film was given the okay by Peter Schneider and the two real life coaches, Boone and Yoast, all that remained were less than a handful of mild profanities.

In addition to the profanity, Remember the Titans obviously has some racial issues surging through it. A brick is thrown through Coach Boone’s house window. His wife hurries the children into another room while Coach Boone grabs a rifle and prepares to shoot the trespassers. Nobody comes in, though; all we see is a car speeding away. This is not the only instance where racial violence is shown, but it should be noted that this movie does not support racism in any way. It boldly decimates the dividing lines between segregation and has several powerful scenes that deal with the negative effects of racism.

Controversy

Since seeing Remember the Titans I have had several people say that they are surprised I saw the film due to the fact that it portrays a homosexual character. Because I know this is the reason why many people will not see this movie, I thought it was worth addressing in its own category.

Here is a quote from someone who saw the film and felt that Sunshine’s character promoted homosexuality: “Sunshine’s shower scene where he kissed another player in an attempt to seduce him was disgraceful. Disney’s attempt to include this behavior on a equal social level with racial concerns was disgusting and obviously in an effort to normalize and encourage acceptance!”

Now, I would like to point out that Sunshine does kiss another character in an attempt to “pay back” an offensive comment made earlier by the character getting kissed (Gerry). However, it was not sexual in any way, but rather locker room tomfoolery used to put Gerry in his place (though I don’t condone this use of tomfoolery).

Furthermore, I would like to point out that the character of Sunshine was not gay. When his father (a military man who has served with black men on the front lines and therefore he and his son “sunshine” have no tolerance for bigotry and racism) brings him to training camp, Gerry yells “hey you fruitcake!” Gerry makes this comment because Sunshine (who’s real name we never learn) shows up to camp with long blond hair (he and his Father just transferred from California where Sunshine liked to ride the waves).

Now, the thing to remember about this movie is first of all, the time period. This is the south in the early 1970’s. Long hair on a young man back then insinuated that he was a hippie, a drug addict, or gay. Therefore, upstanding young men like Gerry would not associate with someone who looked like Sunshine because of the association his hair carried. It was another form of discrimination, essentially.

Coach Boone offers Sunshine a place on the team for two reasons. 1.) he’s got good skills, and 2.) he comes from an environment that doesn’t tolerate racism, which would be a valuable asset to the team, especially considering their struggles with the topic. However, coach Boone has one requirement. Sunshine has to cut his hair, which he willingly does.

Sunshine is not gay. He’s not a hippie. He’s not a drug addict. He’s actually a really good kid, as everyone later learns when they give him a chance, and he stands up for what is right.

The incidents with Sunshine (who was a real person) are just another way that the filmmakers are trying to deal with prejudice on all levels. Even prejudice within one’s race, as was the case with Sunshine. And, just like with the racism, Sunshine was not who he was said to be, anymore than the black boys on the team were who the bigots said they were.

Conclusion

Remember the Titans is a must see movie. I was not only inspired by watching the actions of this team who not only changed their school, but also their town, but I also felt a huge amount of pride. Pride that good men still exist and they are still willing to stand up for what was right. As I began to watch documentaries on Coach Boone and Yoast (who are still very close even today in their old age) I found myself impressed with the filmmakers, too. They chose to listen to the stories told by these two men and truly portray them. As I listened to the two coaches talk about their boys and the struggles they went through, I could see the close parallels between their stories and the movie’s depiction of those stories.
There were many struggles involved with making this movie. Many people did not want it made. Others didn’t believe in the film and thus cut the film’s budget to the point where the movie could no longer be produced. But the men and women behind this film believed in it, and they believed in the story that needed telling. Several of the actors, including Denzel Washington, took heavy pay cuts in order to get the film back into production. And the end result was an amazing movie that earned its place on my favorite’s shelf.

If you watch this film, I promise you that you and your family will Remember the Titans.

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College Road Trip

college_road_tripJames Porter is a man of the law, so he’s seen his share of danger, and he ain’t never gonna let his baby see any of it. Which is why he is a Northwest University man all the way! Why? Because it is 40 miles from home, so when his baby goes off to college he’ll be able to get there in 28 minutes (he’s clocked it) in an emergency.

Melanie isn’t so worried about how fast dad can get to her college, though. She wants to be an attorney, and her sights are set on Georgetown University, which is 700 miles away, in Washington DC, crime central! So, you can imagine dad’s response to such a declaration.

The problem James runs into is his wife’s convincing speech, and the fact that his daughter is planning on a college road trip with her friends. So, dad makes a decision. He’s going to take Mel on her cross-country trip to DC, convince her how wrong it is for her, and then bond with her amidst all the schemes.

If only things would go according to plan.

Positive Elements

James does love his daughter. He just wants what he thinks is best for her, and he wants her to be safe. But not only does he love his daughter, he loves his wife and son, too.

A few nice moments are sprinkled throughout the movie, such as when Michelle, James’ wife, says, “You taught her how to think for herself and be strong”, or when James tells Mel, “Go in there with all confidence, keep your head up, and do your best.”

Negative Elements

Dad, being protective, has a couple of guy moments, in relation to his daughter. When a handsome young man offers to give Melanie a tour, dad asks, “A tour of what?”. Also, when James hears a deep-voiced girl answer the phone at a sorority house, he immediately thinks that Mel is sleeping with guys and girls at the sorority sleepover. He rushes over, only to realize his mistake once he’s under the bed, and is found out and “exposed” as a Peeping Tom the next morning.

Violence is all in an attempt to be humorous (the movie is a comedy, after all). Things like James and another man battling with golf clubs while racing side-by-side in golf carts, or a dad tackling a young man when he learns that he’s engaged to his daughter.

Language is reduced to a couple of “Oh my god!” comments, and the only alcohol depiction is at a wedding reception. James also makes the comment to Melanie that coffee is, essentially, a drug.

Also worth noting is the fact that Melanie lies to her dad about going to the library with friends when she’s actually going to a party.

Conclusion.

The movie is pretty harmless and rather unspectacular. Which is probably why this will be my shortest movie review ever. The movie has a very weak plot, some funny lines that weren’t enough to carry you through the movie, and is yet another “daughter was right, Dad was wrong” kind of film. The pig was adorable, and that was the funkiest, most enjoyable version of the song Double Dutch Buss I have ever heard, but that is about all I can say for the movie.

The Game Plan

game_planJoe Kingman is characterized by three things. First, he loves himself, as evidenced by his shrine of a penthouse. Second, he loves being The King, as evidenced by his huge ego which everyone strokes. And thirdly, he loves football, as evidenced by the fact that his entire life revolves around it. That’s right, powerhouse Joe Kingman is the king of the gridiron. As Joe and his team are on the verge of becoming champions, everything is going great for Kingman. That is until an eight-year-old daughter he didn’t know he had suddenly shows up, the product of his very short marriage which ended… um…. eight years and nine months ago.

Peyton (named after the doctor, not the football star) is the last thing Joe needs right now, so Joe calls in Stella, his agent, to come fix things. What is Stella’s solution? Since Peyton’s mom is off on a humanitarian mission to provide clean drinking water to African children and can’t be reached, Joe might as well try and pretend to be a good dad and draw in more publicity. After all, turning the kid out in the cold would be bad press, so that’s not an option.

Unfortunately for Joe, pretending to be a good dad is a whole lot harder than he thought, especially when Peyton has no plans to play along. She’s here to have a real father daughter experience, not a contrived one.

Positive Elements

The Game Plan, at its core, is a movie about family, and the value of children. When the movie starts out, Joe’s good friend and family-man teammate speaks very clearly when he says that Joe’s playboy lifestyle is empty, and by the end of the movie, Joe has the experience to realize that his friend was spot on. The best thing in Joe’s life isn’t his fame and success; it isn’t even his Heisman trophy. It’s his daughter. And he will do anything to be able to keep Peyton.

The movie is very empowering for parents, and it reminds the audience of the power that fathers, specifically, have in their children’s lives. Peyton’s dancing instructor talks to Joe at one point about how dads can give their kids the courage to do the things they never knew they could, just like her father did. In a society where fathers are belittled and made out to be buffoons, it’s nice to see a film where they are appreciated.

Which brings me to the next positive element I’d like to discuss. In The Game Plan, we see a very unusual storyline played out. Instead of the typical child out of wedlock, we find out that Joe was, in fact, married to Peyton’s mom. Granted, they got a divorce shortly after marriage, but I was surprised that the creators of The Game Plan chose to portray this element in the movie.

Negative Elements

The Game Plan is geared for family eyes and ears, so we see that reflected in the movie, but it is not without its foul plays. As with any Dwayne Johnson movie, we not only see Joe shirtless on multiple occasions, but we see his characteristic pec pop (while he is wrapped in only a towel) which he uses to try and assist his flirting with Peyton’s dance teacher (she’s unimpressed, especially since he forgot about his daughter for a whole 2 hours).

Because ballet is a central part of the story, we see multiple athletes, male and female, dressed in unitards and other ballet outfits.

The strongest language in this movie is the multiple uses of the word stupid, and each time it is used we hear Peyton remind everyone that “stupid is a mean word”.

There are two different party scenes where we see adults drink some sort of alcoholic beverage, and, in an attempt to manipulate her father and Stella, Peyton threatens to tell the media Joe gave her a margarita (which he did not).

The water is also a bit murky, in regards to the circumstances that brought Peyton to her dad’s doorstep, and the lies she told to get there. That said, she does admit wrongdoing and makes a selfless choice, in the end, though this is not as a repercussion of her lies, directly.

Conclusion

For a football movie, there isn’t much football. It’s sorta just a backdrop for the story. Some of the storyline is a bit loose and cliché, but all of that aside, I finished this movie with a smile on my face and a warmth in my heart. Why? Because in the end, a very ego-centric man realizes he’s missed out on eight years of his daughter’s life, and he’s determined to put her first in his life from here on out. He realizes that the best thing in his life is the miracle of his daughter.

Dinosaur

dinosaurWhat happens when a lemur family raises a three-ton iguanodon? A whole lot of unusual, that’s what. But unusual, as we see in this movie, isn’t really a bad thing.

When a meteor shower destroys the home in which Aladar and his family live, they are forced to swim back to the mainland and join up with Aladar’s kind. The dinosaurs. But not everyone is as kind hearted and noble as Aladar. With carnivores trailing the herd, and the aggressive leader of the herd, Kron, breathing down his neck, Aladar has to learn how to maintain the values he has been raised with in a world where survival of the fittest is the reigning mentality.

Positive Elements

This movie, while it may be about dinosaurs who roamed the earth millions of years ago, a la Land Before Time style, is a gold mine full of little nuggets of positivity and timeless truths. And the common thread between all the positive elements of this movie are connected together by one individual. Aladar.

The movie opens up with a newly hatched Aladar already challenging people’s mindset as his soon to be grandfather (a lemur) has to over prejudice, choosing to show the possible flesh eater compassion instead of disposing of him, and this scene sets the tone for not only the movie, but Aladar and his unusual family, as well. Along every step of the journey, Aladar is there spurring others on and giving encouragement. While Kron spurns the old and weak, Aladar gives them value, caring for the older, more “disabled” herd members whose inability to keep pace would make them lunch for the voracious “Carnotaurs.”

Bruton, who initially looks down on Aladar for his selflessness and care of others, is eventually moved by not only Aladar’s kindness, but the kindness and love of his unusual family. Bruton sees a mindset he has never been exposed to before. The mindest of love and community. In the end, he is willing to make incredible sacrifices for those who showed him kindness.
There are many themes in this movie; one of the themes depicted is that of teamwork. We see Aladar teach a pair of young iguanodons to work together, which is then magnified on a much larger scale when Aladar challenges the herd to stand together and stop thinking with the mindset of every man-er… dinosaur, for themselves. It is during this scene that Kron makes a fatal mistake, and yet we still see Aladar rush to his nemesis’ aid.

But perhaps the most poignant theme for me wasn’t the message of persist and persevere, but rather, I loved the closeness of Aladar’s family, and the fact that they really were the reason Aladar was the kind of heroic creature he was. All of those traits were first imparted to him and his 2 siblings by his grandfather and mother. He, like the others around him, was a product of his environment- his positive environment.

Negative Elements

No language, no drugs, no alcohol, and no crude humor (unless you count the urinating baby iguanodon crude humor). The only possible issues that can be found with this movie are 1.) the minor sexual content, or 2.) the fact that, at its core the movie does come from an evolutionary mindset, despite the fact that the themes of the movie debunk the evolutionary mentality of survival of the fittest.

The sexual content, however, is very mild. Zinni (Aladar’s mangy looking brother) is a bit female crazed, and refers to himself as the love monkey, even though he has yet to find a mate. This same older brother tries to give Aladar pick up lines when he meets Neera, Kron’s sister, which don’t go over so well. In addition, we see the lemurs participating in a mating ritual (basically they leap around from vine to vine) early on, and we hear some mating advice given by the elders. It’s all very tame, however.

Violence is low key, but should be noted. We see dinosaur eggs crushed, meat eaters happily devour their prey (there is crunching heard some of the time, but everything is out of frame), raptors pick clean a carcass, and various characters pit themselves against another in a fight for dominance. Having watched the movie with multiple different children, I can safely say that the violence is not at all overwhelming.

Conclusion

The effects are great and the message solid. It’s an older movie with supporting characters that could have been fleshed out a bit more, but whose main character is much to be emulated. I loved this movie as a child and, having recently rewatched it as an adult, I can still say with satisfaction that I truly enjoyed this movie.

Wreck-It-Ralph

Wreck-It RalphRalph is a bad guy. Well, he’s not a bad guy, but… he’s a bad guy. In an arcade game called Felix Fix-It Jr. Ralph breaks a penthouse full of cute little people, Felix fixes it with his magic hammer and wins a medal. That’s how it’s been every single day for thirty years. Felix gets parties and cake and admiration, while Ralph lives in the dump and is shunned and hated.

One day, Ralph finally decides to change all this. He’s tired of being a bad guy, and wants to be a hero. He obtains a promise that if he gets a medal, he can live in the penthouse, and sets out to get a shiny, hero medal from the Cy-Bug-ridden Hero’s Duty game.

But after gaining the medal, his clumsiness sends him crashing into the candy-coated Sugar Rush racing game, where he meets an annoying but cute little girl who needs his help. Not to mention that Fix-It-Felix Jr. is being shut down without Ralph’s wrecking, and Ralph accidentally brought a Cy-Bug with him that’s going to eat Sugar Rush and then all the rest of the arcade if it can’t be stopped.

Can Ralph make the right choices in a world where the tweak of a code can change everything? Can he save the arcade and do his duty? And what really makes a hero, anyway?

The Fixed

I was impressed by the theme of the movie. At first it looks like there’s nothing wrong with Ralph’s goal–he wants to be good, right? And he’s just lonely and tired of being shunned. Is his dream of being gloried and loved such a bad one? As the story progresses, however, Ralph comes to realize that this goal was actually a selfish one. He was so caught up in his own desires and comfort that he lost sight of his responsibilities, seriously endangering everyone around him.

And not only does he admit this, but he’s willing to right his wrongs and fix things, no matter what it takes–even if he has to sacrifice his own life for it.

The themes of friendship and loyalty are also strong. Ralph demonstrates true loyalty to Vanillope by being willing to hurt her in order to do what’s best for her in the long run. He gives a cherry he was about to eat to some “gameless” characters who are in need, demonstrating true heroic behavior that may not win medals, but makes him much more of a good guy than he realizes.

The film is also overall clean. There are a few issues that I’ll discuss later, but there is no language, no sexuality, and no graphic violence.

The Wrecked

The biggest concerns of the movie are some mild crude humor, and some pretty scary violence. Vanillope is very rough around the edges, and consistently calls Ralph names like “Stinkbrain” and “Captain Underwear.” He later reciprocates with names like “Boogerface.” Even though most of these instances are teasingly affectionate, and at worst just annoyingly taunting, it comes up fairly frequently. There’s also one scene where Ralph explains that he got his medal in the “Hero’s Duty” game, and Vanillope giggles and makes fun of the name with phrases like “I bet you have to watch your step in there!” followed by several other mild toilet jokes.

The violence is higher than for many animated films, especially in the Hero’s Duty game and the climax of the movie, featuring thousands of Cy-Bugs, explosions, and dangerous situations. In one scene near the beginning, at a villain support group meeting, one villain rips a zombie’s heart out and holds it to make a point, which was mildly gross.

Calhoun, a female sergeant from the Hero’s Duty game, is a prominent character, and is a tough, intense, warrior in a suit of heavy-duty game armor. Her backstory is a tragic one of a fiance eaten by Cy-Bugs, hardening her into a warrior who lives only to destroy the vermin. Some may be put off by her feminism, but it wasn’t a large part of the plot and didn’t affect the theme at all, in my view, and I especially enjoyed seeing her character soften under the influence of association with good, old-fashioned gentleman Felix.

The Gameplay

The movie is really incredibly clever, and worth seeing for that fact alone. The way the video game world is treated, and the mechanics and rules of passing between games is really delightful. The humor and the world made me laugh out loud throughout.

The animation is amazing, and the translation of arcade graphics to CGI characters had me grinning several times. The story kept me on my toes the entire time, tossing in multiple twists that were often unpredictable even to me (I’m known for guessing twists before they come). Not to mention that it had me crying multiple times.

If the crude humor doesn’t bother you and you aren’t scared by a little animated intensity, I’d definitely recommend this movie for the cleverness, the heartwarming characters, and the sincere lesson, about what really makes a hero.

National Treasure

Benjamin Franklin Gates is a man with a great family legacy full of heroism and great men. Trouble is, the rest of the world doesn’t see it that way. For generations Ben’s family has searched for a treasure believed to have been smuggled out of Europe and hidden in the colonies by our Founding Fathers. How do they know the treasure is real? Because a Gates was the one to receive the cryptic message about its existence from a dying president. All it’s seemed to have gotten them, though, is a reputation as conspiracy theorists. While Ben’s father is fed up after losing everything, including his good name, Ben can’t forget the stories told to him by his grandfather, and he refuses to give up on his family legacy.

So, when Ian Howe offers to fund Ben’s Expedition to find the treasure, Ben hops on the opportunity and takes his tec savvy best friend along with him. But, upon deciphering the clue long past down to his family, Ben discovers another clue, one that leads him to believe there is an invisible map on the back of the Declaration of Independence. It is at this point in the game when Ben learns who the treasure protectors are, and who the treasure hunters are. It’s now up to Ben and Riley, after narrowly escaping Ian with their lives, to protect the Declaration, and the treasure, at all costs, causing them to hatch an elaborate plan to steal the Declaration. Along the way they unwittingly partner up with Abigail Chase, a National Archives conservator, and Ben’s Father.

Positive Elements

I was very skeptical when I first watched National Treasure several years ago, because the driving force of the movie seems questionable. The main character has to do something wrong (steal) in order for the plot to move forward. However, when I watched the movie, it quickly became one of my all time favorites because of this plot point. Ben does something wrong (steal the Declaration of Independence) in order to do what is right.

Quoting from the Declaration of Independence, Ben points out that those with the ability to take action have the responsibility to take action. Ben doesn’t look at the treasure as something to seek after for monetary gain. He sees it as something to seek after because of the history which will be unearthed upon its discovery—the legacy. The Declaration is revered as a symbol of freedom to be protected, and Ben’s and Ian’s simultaneous attempts to steal that document reveal a sharp contrast in their methods and character. Thus everything in the movie is motivated by two things: The bad guys are in it for personal riches and are happy to destroy the Declaration once they are done with it, to ensure no one else ever find the treasure, and Ben is motivated by family loyalties and the desire to share the world’s heritage with the world’s museums.

It is no surprise, then, to learn that Ben is a character worth emulating. He’s an example to young boys in our day and age who have few good examples to follow. Ben never gives up, and his persistence even in the midst of disappointments and frustrations is admirable. He patiently endures persecution for what he believes to be true. Despite people calling him foolish and crazy, Ben and his ancestors (Dad excluded) have maintained an undying optimism and held fast to their convictions.

We also see in the movie that family and friendships are portrayed as sacred. Young Ben shares a deep camaraderie with his grandfather that shape’s his life, and he cares deeply about his father, and what his father thinks of him, despite their estranged relationship (in the end they have mended their relationship). Also, Ben’s relationship with his friends, first Riley and then Abigail, is honorable, as is his sanctity of life. While Ben passionately wants to find that treasure, he puts his friend’s lives first. He chooses Riley’s life over the treasure more than once, saves Abigail before the Declaration, and when they lose the Declaration to Ian, Ben’s first response is to make sure they are okay.

Negative Elements

There is only one use of hell in this movie, but a handful of for god’s sake, my lord, and so forth.

When Ben shows up at his father’s house with Riley and Abigail in tow (father and son have obviously not spoken for a while), his dad’s first question is “Is she pregnant?”. The question is a bit humorous to viewers, as Ben is not portrayed as that type of guy, but it could upset some parents (I rather found the interchange funny, as Abigail’s response is “Do I look pregnant?!”).

The violence in this movie is not bloody at all, and mostly just gun fire. There are some skeletons shown on screen, and Ben finds himself in many intense situations, but these are all thriller based, as opposed to violence based. After all, this is a Jerry Bruckheimer movie (I adore Bruckheimer), so wild car chases, explosions, and Indian Jones styled treasure hunting predicaments are in abundance.

Now, the biggest issue I could see people having is the right vrs wrong themes portrayed in the movie. As I said before, Ben’s motives are pure, and he is doing what he believes to be right no matter the cost, but many Christian viewers seem to be getting pickier and pickier about storytelling (film or not) being strictly black and white. I disagree with this. I like movies that are black and white, don’t get me wrong, but not everything is black and white in our world. As Ben Gates says, our Founding Father’s committed high treason in the name of freedom- something that was right, but because of circumstances and the rulers and principalities of this world, that right action is said to be wrong. Ben never compromises what is right, but he has to use questionable means to accomplish what is right (hack into the security cameras to steal the Declaration, trick Abigail when he first meets her, lie to Ian in order to protect his friends). So, depending how you feel on situational ethics, you may or may not like this movie.

Conclusion

National Treasure has become one of my favorite movies. I give it high praise and have coerced many of my friends into seeing it (all of whom, thus far, have adored it!). This is a clean version of Indiana Jones with way more historical tidbits, a hero who is actually virtuous, and a zany side kick who brings good comedy to the story. It’s action/adventure packed and baits you clue by clue and chase by chase. It is the type of movie that makes you say “Why don’t they make more movies like that?” Which is why I say, if you haven’t seen it, do.

The Pacifier

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.

Positive Elements

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.

Negative Elements

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.

Conclusion

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.