The reason I chose The Pacifier (2005) is because I wanted to see Vin Diesel, who plays Navy Sea Air and Land (SEAL) officer Lieutenant Shane Wolfe, in a comedic role. Here is the list of Vin Diesel comedies: The Pacifier. That was the list of Vin Diesel comedies. That alone should tell you how bad of a film it is, though you cannot blame Disney for trying to capitalize on the growing star’s name. After watching it, it is as ridiculous as one might expect. Start the clown music, it is a Navy SEAL being asked to babysit for five kids ranging from newborn to high schoolers. Just imagine all the zany hijinks! Still, something strange happened during my viewing. I realized, particularly as oldest son of the Plummer family, Seth (Max Thieriot), had a role in local production of The Sound of Music, that this dumb movie is meant to be a cheap knock off of the classic musical. Read further to understand how this unfolds.
Of course, The Sound of Music does not begin with a SEAL Team infiltrating a terrorist boat while at sea as in The Pacifier, unless there is something I missed. Lieutenant Wolfe leads his men in a rescue mission of Professor Howard Plummer (Tate Donovan). Professor Plummer is being held by a group of Serbian terrorists who want a top-secret government project on which he is working called “Ghost.” Though Lieutenant Wolfe is (hilariously) successful, a subsequent attack on their escape helicopter ends with Professor Plummer dead and Lieutenant Wolfe severely injured. Upon his full recovery, his commanding officer, Captain Bill Fawcett (Chris Potter), gives Lieutenant Wolfe new orders. While Captain Fawcett is to accompany Professor Plummer’s widow, Julie (Faith Ford), to Zurich, Switzerland, to retrieve the contents of the late researcher’s safety deposit box in a bank in the neutral European country, Lieutenant Wolfe is to watch over her five children. This is not your typical assignment for a Navy SEAL, nor is it a straightforward babysitting job. While he is in the Plummer house, he is to look for clues to the Ghost technology. Lieutenant Wolfe goes into the mission believing he will simply be monitoring their behavior for a couple days, while searching for the missing data. Two things complicate the situation. The first comes when the nanny, Helga Popescu (Carol Kane), quits after being spat up upon one too many times, and slipping down the stairs in a prank intended to deter the strict Lieutenant Wolfe. The other complication is Julie. When she arrives at the bank in Zurich, she cannot remember the password to open the safety deposit box. This sets back mom days longer than anticipated. What it means for Lieutenant Wolfe is that he must become mother and father to a set of unruly, undisciplined children. He receives some help from their school, which appears to cater to all the grades, namely in the form of Principal Claire Fletcher (Lauren Graham). She has a connection with Lieutenant Wolfe because she used to be in the Navy. Who is not a help at the school is their Assistant Principal, Dwayne Murney (Brad Garrett). He believes all the Plummer kids are delinquents, particularly Seth. In Dwayne’s mind, any kid would jump at the opportunity to be on the school’s wrestling team. Seth not only misses practice, but comes to school with blonde hair and they find a swastika armband in his possession. The matter is brought to Lieutenant Wolfe’s attention, and the SEAL’s investigation reveals that Seth is actually sneaking off to take the role of Rolfe in a local production of The Sound of Music. When Seth finds that Lieutenant Wolfe had followed him, the boy is not pleased. None of the Plummers are happy with Lieutenant Wolfe’s strict, disciplinarian style. The oldest daughter, Zoe (Brittany Snow), is especially irked, particularly when he crashes a party that she is having at their house and makes all the guests clean up after themselves. What begins to turn things around for the Plummers in their attitudes toward Lieutenant Wolfe is when he fights off a pair of ninja-look-alike home invaders who also appear to be looking for the Ghost technology. They realize that the SEAL is their best hope for protection. In turn, he agrees to take over directing The Sound of Music for Seth, gives Zoe proper driving lessons, teaches second oldest daughter Lulu (Morgan York) and her girl scout troop to defend themselves, and learns the special dance needed to get second youngest son Peter (Kegan and Logan Hoover) to sleep. Things are coming together for them when they find out that mom is coming home, finally having recalled the password. Conveniently, this is when Lieutenant Wolfe discovers a secret vault under the Plummers’ home, which is where Ghost is hidden. When Julie returns with Captain Fawcett, Lieutenant Wolfe takes him to the vault, but the commanding officer turns out to be working for the North Koreans. The same goes for the Plummers’ neighbors, Mr. (Denis Akiyama) and Mrs. Chun (Mung-Ling Tsui), who were also the ones who had tried to break in earlier. Yet, with a little help from the kids, and Claire’s timely intervention, Captain Fawcett is prevented from making off with the device and is arrested.
I mean, if you cannot guess what they are going for with The Pacifier as a parody of The Sound of Music with the family name being Plummer . . . then allow me to further explain the comparisons! For starters, one of the stars of the 1965 classic was Christopher Plummer, so there you go with the name. Had they called the family von Trapp, that probably would have been hitting it too much on the nose. As such, this makes Lieutenant Wolfe the Maria (Julie Andrews). What they did not do is have Lieutenant Wolfe fall in love with Julie, which probably would have been too convenient, but a callback all the same. Still, like the nun-in-training turned nanny turned stepmother Maria, Lieutenant Wolfe apparently leaves his career in the military to be nearby for the Plummer children. He does because they have all come to love him as a surrogate father, and the pleas of young ones are difficult to refuse. In my review of The Sound of Music I talked about Maria’s worries about falling for Captain Von Trapp, and what this might mean for her calling to be a nun. Obviously, it took her away from it as she ends up marrying the Austrian officer. Lieutenant Wolfe is no less dedicated to his life as a Navy SEAL. He imbues pretty much everything he does with the same rigor as he had been taught in the military. What is important for him, and for all of us, is that he find what he is called to do. God brings these matters to our attention at moments we might see as inconvenient. There is nothing going on in his life, or Maria’s, that would suggest that they are doing anything other than what they were meant to do. Yet, God puts people in our lives for a purpose. No doubt there were other signs in their life that they should have been going at other pursuits, but they went ignored. God can use the people he puts in our paths to reminds us of the correct one we should be following.
If none of this review of The Pacifier interests you, I cannot blame you. If you have kids, then maybe they will like it? It is free on Disney+, at any rate. As I said in the introduction, I saw it in order to witness Vin Diesel’s one foray into comedy. He is not bad, but the movie has a serious lack of genuine laughs. Then again, I could just be letting my curmudgeon show too much in not enjoying it. Either way, there is nothing objectionable in it, and I always think that counts for something.