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Film / The Pacifier

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Duty calls! Prepare for bottle!
The Pacifier is a 2005 Disney live-action comedy starring Vin Diesel (in his first family comedy) and directed by Adam Shankman about a Navy Seal who is sent to babysit five obnoxious kids while their mother goes to Switzerland. What could possibly go wrong?

After a rescue mission to save government scientist Howard Plummer ends with the scientist dead and Navy SEAL Lt. Shane Wolfe (Diesel) in the hospital, Shane is sent to protect the deceased scientist's family while their mother Julie (Faith Ford) and Shane's superior Captain Bill Fawcett (Chris Potter) go to Zurich, Switzerland, to retrieve a deposit box her husband had left there. Initially, the five kids, Alpha Bitch wannabe Zoe (Brittany Snow), rebel without a cause Seth (Max Thieriot), Firefly Scout Lulu (Morgan York), toddler Peter, and baby Tyler, cannot stand their new guardian and do everything they can think of to get him out. In response, Shane treats the family to some military style discipline.

Things aren't much better at school. While Principal Claire Fletcher (Lauren Graham) allows him to be there to protect the kids, Vice Principal Dwayne Murney (Brad Garrett)— who actively dislikes Seth, particularly when he keeps ditching the wrestling team (which Murney also coaches) — is a totally different matter. As Shane tries to deal with these issues and come to some sort of agreeable arrangement with the kids, he tries to find the missing satellite program, all while dealing with a pair of masked ninjas who are looking for the same.

They get word that their mother cannot get the box until she can supply the correct password, so she ends up staying for a lot longer. As time goes on, Shane finds himself warming up to the kids, and the feelings are eventually reciprocated. In the end, Shane becomes a surrogate father to the kids, and, with their help, he saves their father's research from falling into enemy hands.

This film provides examples of:

  • Action-Hero Babysitter: Vin Diesel plays a Navy SEAL tasked with babysitting. Currently provides the page image.
  • Aerith and Bob: Downplayed. Zoe, Seth, Lulu, Peter, and Tyler are the kids' names, with Lulu being the standout one.
  • Amazon Brigade: Lulu's Firefly troop becomes this, due to having Shane as a den mother.
  • Any Last Words?: At the climax, Bill has Shane dead to rights at the entrance to Howard's safe and asks if he has any last words. Shane replies with the safe's activation phrase, "Say goodnight, Peter Panda"; the safe door flies open and smacks Bill in the face, knocking him out cold.
  • Bad Liar: Seth while being bullied by Vice Principal Murney for being "feminine" in switching from wrestling to theater is told by Murney that there isn't a man in the house, with Shane observing this. Seth retorts, "There is a man in the house! It's me!"
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: The North Korean agents plus Captain Bill Fawcett, who sold out America to North Korea because he claims they pay him better.
  • Bound and Gagged: Happens to the kids, before they quickly and silently Slip The Ropes.
  • But Now I Must Go: Subverted. Once their mother returns home and they take down the North Korean spies, Shane tearfully tells the kids he can't stay with them any longer; though it turns out Shane chose not to return to the Navy and instead has become the new wrestling coach for their high school. So in a way, they can still see and meet him, but they aren't living with him anymore.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Peter Panda dance. It's the means for surviving GHOST's very large array of traps.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Principal/PO3 Claire Fletcher, Garry the duck, and the neighbors.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Zoe's parallel parking.
    • Tyler crying when Lulu crosses her eyes.
  • Child Care and Babysitting Stories: The film opens with lieutenant Shane being tasked with protecting the five Plummer kids from the enemies of their recently deceased father. The kids are a lot to handle as they dislike him at first, but they slowly warm up to their new guardian.
  • The Comically Serious: Shane puts his SEAL training into every aspect of running the household.
  • Cover Innocent Eyes and Ears:
    • Zoe covers Tyler's eyes when Murney comes out in a nasty looking wrestling outfit.
    • Brad Garrett himself feels very embarrassed about being forced to wear that nasty wrestling outfit as proven in the behind-the-scenes featurette "Brad Garrett: Unpacified". The first 30 seconds of the featurette shows montages of him in the wrestling outfit doing silly poses until Brad begs while blocking the camera "Please! This has gotta stop! Enough! Enough!"
    Brad Garrett: But they made me wear in the wrestling sequence, which if you wanna cut to that right now. (small inset screen at the bottom corner showing Brad in the outfit) Please don't watch this if you've already had dinner. I'm sorry, it's a little frightening. It's a bad outfit for me.
  • Creator Cameo: Director Adam Shankman makes a cameo as Zoe's driver's Ed teacher.
  • Cultured Warrior: When Shane finds out Seth is sneaking out to rehearsals for The Sound of Music, he is impressed, even taking over as director when the first one quits. He even remarks that The Sound of Music is his favorite musical because "a nun giving up the habit for a military guy" can't be all bad.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: No matter how tough a wrestling coach might be, he has nowhere near the amount of combat skill and experience as a Navy Seal.
  • Dawson Casting: In-universe — the actress cast as Liesl in The Sound of Music is obviously too old for the role.
  • Dean Bitterman: Principal Claire Fletcher is a Reasonable Authority Figure. Vice Principal Dwayne Murney, on the other hand, is an egotistical Jerkass who clearly has it out for the Plummers (especially Seth).
  • Death Course: One of the more ludicrous examples.
  • Death Trap Tango: Shane makes his way through GHOST's impressive series of death traps by following the steps of the Peter Panda dance.
  • Dynamic Entry: Shane kicks Seth's door down (worried about bad guys), not knowing Seth was in the bathroom across the hall.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: It turns out that Howard somehow managed to outfit his house with a high-tech underground safe (complete with Death Course) without his family ever realizing.
  • Enemy Mine: It's implied that Zoe and Seth do not get along, but when the first morning without their mother goes miserably, the two team up together to try and get rid of Shane.
    Zoe: You know I would never ask you for your help. But he has got to go.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Howard Plummer shows Shane a photo of his family just before getting killed by Serbian rebels.
  • Fish out of Water: The entire premise is that Shane is a strict, disciplined Navy SEAL Lieutenant charged with managing a suburban family, where he has to learn that treating the Plummers like a Navy SEAL squad isn't the best approach.
  • Getting the Baby to Sleep: Shane (a reluctant babysitter) has to learn the "Peter Panda Dance" (and the song that goes along with it), which is the only way to get little Peter to go to sleep.
  • Gone Horribly Right/Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Seth and Zoe pour cooking oil on the stairs, hoping that Shane will slip on it. Instead, Helga the nanny does and then does a rather bad topple down the stairs. This causes Helga to quit and leave in a rage, despite Shane's attempts to stop her from leaving.
  • Gratuitous Ninja: They're secretly the Plummer's neighbors.
  • Groin Attack:
    • Lulu kicks Mr. Chun in the crotch, causing him to collapse as she and the others make a run for it.
    • Later at the climax, Garry the duck bites the same guy in the jewels before the latter can snatch the GHOST chip.
  • Hidden Depths: Say what you will about Murney, but it does become easy to respect him a little when he gets disgusted by the sight of a Nazi armband.
  • I Know Karate: After being harassed by a rival troop of boy scouts, Shane teaches the Fireflies to defend themselves. The next time the boys try something, the girls give them a beatdown that ends with them tied to each other, bound with their neckerchiefs and gagged with cookies.
  • Improbable Parking Skills: Shane and Zoe have them.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Zig-zagged. While Vice Principal Murney has reason to be angered when a Nazi armband was brought to school, which can cause fear and panic due what it represents, he may have just subconsciously wanted a reason to get Seth in trouble since the latter was only using it for a play that involved Nazis in the plot. Still, not a smart move on Seth's part.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Shane. He can be pretty aloof and rather stubborn and impatient with the kids, but he has a good heart and teaches the kids how to handle their problems and encourages them to do what makes them happy in various ways.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: Parodied as Shane "suits up" with diapers, baby bottles, etc. as he gets ready to take the kids to school.
  • McNinja: The two ninjas who Shane fights off are revealed to have come from North Korea.
  • Meaningful Echo: "You do things my/our way! No highway option!"
  • Mistaken for Subculture: Seth, the older son, is mistaken for a Neo-Nazi when he dyes his hair blond and a swastika armband is found in his locker. Turns out that he was actually playing Rolf in a community production of The Sound of Music.
  • The Mole: The Plummer's neighbors are secretly North Korean spies, and Shane's superior Captain Fawcett plans to sell GHOST to North Korea once it's found.
  • Mood Whiplash: The opening scene is a tense action scene that ends with the target getting brutally murdered and Shane critically injured. Cut to a happy-go-lucky family comedy.
  • My Favorite Shirt: Shane's shirt gets mustard and bologna on it, prompting this phrase. Funny, considering all his shirts are the same... And because they're all just generic white T-shirts.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The promotional trailer combines a scene of Shane preparing to drive the family minivan to school, answered by Lulu dramatically leaping out to kiss the ground after the van finally comes to a stop. The latter scene is actually in response to Zoey's first driving lesson with the van, rather than Shane's Badass Driver skills.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Seth's Nazi armband is traced to the secret that he's playing Rolf in a stage production of The Sound of Music.
  • Odd Couple: The premise of this movie is about a strict, by-the-books US Navy lieutenant having to bodyguard, and ultimately parent, a group of undisciplined, selfish children and teenagers who've been spoiled rotten by their parents.
  • Parental Abandonment: Shane was raised by his father (his mother left when he was very little) who sent him off to military school so that he could keep being a soldier. He was then killed in action.
  • Physical Fitness Punishment: Zoey's boyfriend Scott tries to sneak in through a window, setting off the alarm. Shane, catches Scott and tells him to give him twenty.
    Shane: Gimme 20. (Scott takes out his wallet) I meant push-ups!
  • Pom-Pom Girl: Zoe is seen energetically practicing with the cheer squad in one scene. While she acts like a Bratty Teenage Daughter at home, she's really just depressed over the death of her father and doesn't seem to be mean or entitled toward her classmates.
  • Practically Different Generations: There is over a decade in age between the two oldest Plummer children and their two youngest siblings.
  • Rage Quit: Helga the nanny when the trap the kids laid for Shane makes her slip down the stairs, and the director of the Sound of Music production out of frustration with the actors tripping up during practice.
  • Refreshingly Normal Life-Choice: While Shane initially does not take well to being a manny in suburban Maryland, especially since the kids are all difficult in their own ways, he grows to love them and love being involved in a mundane life. After foiling the evil plot so that the family is safe, he retires from the Navy to become the high school's wrestling coach.
  • Sadist Teacher: Dwayne Murney is an arrogant and abusive wrestling coach who enjoys bullying Seth for giving up on wrestling and says that his decision to do so in favor of pursuing theater is not masculine.
  • Slipped the Ropes: Two of the kids do this, silently and impressively.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The kids' mother's name Julie Plummer is an explicit reference to The Sound of Music stars Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.
    • There are many references to The Sound Of Music, all the way up to comparing the movie to the musical itself.
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: Julie tries to guilt trip Captain Fawcett over his betrayal. It doesn't work.
    Julie: You betrayed us, and you betrayed your country!
    Captain Fawcett: Guess what? North Korea pays better.
  • Suck E. Cheese's: Woody Woodchuck's. It does not look like a very fun place to be with kids screaming and fighting, and the employees wearing terrible-looking around-the-head braces ...
    Shane: And they say war is hell.
  • Time-Compression Montage: Shows Shane warming up to the family, Zoe's driving skills improving, Seth practicing for the play, Lulu and her scouts learning martial arts, and Shane learning how to change a diaper.
  • Title Drop: Shane is describing his special ops wrestling grapples with one in particular (and his personal favorite) called "the Pacifier." Just so you know, it involves putting the opponent's fingers in said opponent's own mouth.
  • Token Romance: Shane and Claire. It doesn't affect the plot in any meaningful way, but the film establishes their characters well enough that the relationship does make sense. And it's kinda cute.
  • To the Pain: Shane describes the exact grapples he pulls on the wrestling coach as he is doing them.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Shown during the Wild Teen Party. Zoe is yelling at her boyfriend Scott for inviting a whole bunch of people that she didn't know to her house for a party. After Shane gets back and makes them clean up the mess they made (which includes baloney plastered to the ceiling with mustard), she's upset...because Scott will never speak to her again. Shane, being a SEAL, has the sense to call her out on that.
    Zoe: Thanks a lot, Lt. Loser! Now I'm gonna be the school joke! I don't know what I'll say to my friends!
    Shane: You call those people your "friends?" They have no respect for you. They have no respect for your home. You don't even have any respect for yourself!
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Shows up as part of a Freeze-Frame Bonus, when Shane leafs through database of the Plummer family, including one for their wizened Bulgarian nanny, Helga. Who used to be a Miss Bulgaria participant in the 80s.
  • Wild Teen Party: While Shane is out with the scouts, Zoe throws a party. When he gets back, he has all the teens clean up their mess.
  • You Are Number 6: Given Shane's background in the U.S. Navy SEALS, Shane discards the kids' names. He labels them "Red One", "Red Two", "Red Three" and "Red Four", and “Red Baby”.