This crass, crude, and overly familiar formula comedy has Vin Deisel as Shane Wolf, an all-business Navy Seal who has to play babysitter for five children in the suburbs. He’s all about securing perimeters and drop-and-give-me-twenty. They are undisciplined and acting out following the loss of their father, but they know how to love. Result of this meeting of opposites: development of mutual admiration through comic and heart-warming incidents and some cartoon-y stunts. You know the (and I mean this literally) drill.
All of this might manage to qualify as mindlessly enjoyable pap if it was not so insincere, littered with gross-out jokes, and, with an a tin ear for its target audience. This movie has material that is inappropriate for younger kids and jokes that are too immature for the older ones.
Shane is sent to rescue a computer whiz who has been kidnapped by the Serbs because they want who has created his super-secret “ghost” program. The whiz is killed by the bad guys (off screen), and after Shane recovers from being shot, he is sent to protect the whiz’s family while his widow attempts to retrieve the program from a safe desposit box in a Swiss bank.
At first, Shane is so uninterested in the children or so interested in keeping his distance from everyone that he does not even learn their names, calling them “Red One,” “Red Two,” down through “Red Baby.” But when “Red Chief,” the babysitter (Carol Kane) quits, he begins to get to know the kids. And when it turns out he can help them with their problems, he begins to care about them.
So Shane shows the rebellious teenage daughter that her “friends” don’t really care about her because they don’t respect her, and teaches her to drive, with some fancy Seal-style moves they don’t show you in driver’s ed. He stands up to the older son’s huge-but-immature wrestling coach (“Everybody Loves Raymond’s” Brad Garrett). He teaches the younger daughter and her “Firefly” (think Brownie) friends how to clean the clocks of the pesky boys who break their cookies. He learns the special “Panda Dance” song to sing the toddler to sleep. And he even learns how to change a diaper!
Meanwhile, the bad guys are trying to break into the house to get the Ghost program. So, everyone has to learn to work together and rely on one another, yadda yadda. This is all shown through crude humor (many diaper and baby barf jokes), weirdly homophobic insults (the wrestling coach’s oddly rhapsodic taunts of Shane’s big arms, questioning the masculinity of someone who doesn’t fight), uncomfortably stereotyped bad guys, and a plot twist involving a swastika that few in the target age group will understand or relate to.
In other words, Vin Diesel: Don’t come back, Shane!
Parents should know that this movie is at the PG-13 edge of PG. It has a lot of cartoon-ish “action violence:” no blood and no on-screen shooting but an exploding helicopter, a glimpse of a dead body, a lot of kicking and hitting. A parent is killed (off-screen). There is a lot of potty humor including many diaper jokes and a character covered with sewage. There is some crude schoolyard language including “bite me,” “boobs,” “spaz,” “skanky.” One positive note is that a daughter wears a crucifix, though there is no further evidence of any religious faith. The portrayal of the bad guys has some unpleasantly racist overtones and some of the “humorous” insults are sexist and homophobic. And there is intrusive product placement for Costco and other brands.
Families who see this movie should talk about how different people respond differently to loss and pain. What examples did we see in this story?
Families who enjoyed this movie will also enjoy Daddy Day Care. Older audience memembers may enjoy the more violent PG-13-rated Kindergarten Cop. And every family should see the classic The Sound of Music.