ReviewWriter: Chan Sue ChingWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast:
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I had high hopes for this one. Unfortunately, the promising premise with a likable lead and a spunky young cast weren't enough to keep this one afloat, drowning after an hour or so of barely-there laughs. The jokes are predictable, but you forgive the predictability because it is a Disney show and meant for children. But after the diaper gags are modified in every way possible, the premise starts to flail and even the actors look tired with the ho-hum humour and routine storyline.
Vin Diesel plays Navy S.E.A.L Shane Wolfe, at the top of his game and with high militaristic standards, "I want perfection, nothing less," he yells to his troops just before a rescue operation. However, he falls short of his own standards when the scientist he was supposed to rescue is killed.
Disappointed in himself, he takes his new assignment with weighty seriousness. Unfortunately, this approach doesn't work. Assigned to protect the five grieving children of the assassinated scientist, the tough navy officer soon realises that his military approach is useless on the children. While their mother, Julie Plummer (Faith Ford) has to leave on a mission of her own, the comedy unfolds as Shane applies all his navy training to disciplining the kids. For example, when sullen teenager, Seth (Max Thieriot), doesn't respond to Shane's knock on his bedroom door, Shane rams the door down, only to have the this teenager slink out of the bathroom a half second later!
Therein lies the humour of the story - Shane's helplessness as a 'dad'. The heart lies in Shane's trading-in of his hard rules for a softer approach, something he learns from the sympathetic school principal (Lauren Graham). Diesel pumps a lot of humour and heart, but the effort is wasted on a safe and unadventurous storyline.
The excitement is kept fairly high with a so-so chemistry between Shane and his little charges. He gets into a few fixes with the diapers, gets laughed at by little Lulu for having big boobs, is yelled at by a frustrated Zoe who can't stand his un-cool rules, and dances a very silly dance in order to put toddler Peter to sleep - all in a day's work. These situations provide the laughs, which are few and far between.
Other than that, it's as if the director is trying to be economical with his few tough-guy-versus-chaotic-children jokes, spacing them out sparingly throughout the movie. Brad Garret is wasted in his role as the small-hearted vice principal, being the cheap shot for some tasteless humour. Also, after a while, the military background drumbeat that accompanies his babysitting missions gets annoying. But strip the story of the drumbeat, and you'll get the naked truth - this movie promises a lot on the surface, but fails to deliver. Cinema Online, 23 September 2008