STUDIO: Walt Disney Home Video
MSRP: $29.99 RATED: PG
RUNNING TIME: 96 Minutes
Deleted Scenes
On the Set w/ Vin Diesel
On the Set w/ Brad Garrett
Special Ops TV Commercials
Audio Commentary w/ Director and Writers

Vin Diesel. Just let the name roll around in your head. What kind of imagery did the name invoke? The name just seems to draw upon the primitive portion of your brain; images of brutality and power (and perhaps some oiled up fantasy). He was Richard Riddick, man! He could take out an alien with a metal shard or kill you with a coffee cup. He’d beat the shit out of you with a wrench or fleece your poor grandparents out of their retirement fund on some junk bond. He was testosterone and muscle and he had a presence on the screen. There used to be talk of him taking over the Arnold role in Hollywood, and in a way he did. Unfortunately, it was the role from Kindergarten Cop.

The Flick

Vin Diesel plays Shane Wolfe, a combat tested Navy S.E.A.L. commander who in the opening sequence of the movie orchestrates a complex rescue mission only to have it go south at the extraction point. By "go south" I mean that the rescue subject Dr. Plummer, played by The O.C.’s Tate Donovan, is killed and that Shane gets shot once and falls unconscious. CUT TO: Two months later at a hospital as Shane is being released, his C.O. (Commanding Officer) is telling him that he is the best and that they still need him to complete the mission. Apparently, Dr. Plummer was a security expert and has crafted some uber weapon of great importance and it is in either one of two places. A Swiss safety deposit box or the suburban home of his family. And while the C.O. is taking Mrs. Plummer to the safety deposit box, Shane will protect the kids and snoop around the house. This has a particular poignant irony as one of the last things the Dr. said was that Shane would love his kids, and Shane disagreed. I guess we’ll see who was right.

"You could have just TOLD me what you thought of xXx."

So our combat hardened special ops soldier gets dropped off at the Plummer home nestled nicely in suburbia and walks up to meet what the front of the box calls “his match”. He gets a nice reception into the suburban life – The door is slammed in his face, the mom hugs him, and the family pet, in this case Gary the Duck, attacks him. I know you know about that last part because unless you were hiding under a rock when this thing was coming out in theaters, you had to have seen that in a commercial. Oddly, it was still funny.

Shane immediately starts on his task of providing protection by setting up a security system complete with perimeter alarms. Most of it is in place when the mother leaves to see if the uber weapon was in fact stored in a deposit box in the land of fine chocolates, watches, and nifty pocketknives all the while leaving our Navy commando in charge of the house and the 5 kids plus one nanny. While Shane is putting the finishing touches on some of the security measures, he hears gunfire and screaming downstairs and immediately bolts down there to see what is going on. Turns out it was just one of the kids playing a Mortal Kombat video game… That’s right. He hears “gunfire” and “a female screaming for help” and finds that it is only a kid playing Mortal Kombat. (Yes, I’m somewhat of a game geek and I’m pointing out that the sound effects don’t match the game.) Just as the relief that it was a false alarm sets in, the real alarm goes off. Someone is inside the perimeter. Shane sees the figure scaling the walls of the house and immediately rushes out to catch and subdue them. Again it was a false alarm as it was only a boy sneaking up to see the teenage girl of the house. With all of these false alarms and scares, Shane decides to wake everyone up at 6:00AM to instill some discipline and give them all clunky tracking bracelets so that he can better protect them.

"Ohh, Devin… you’re stupid and God will smite you."

You can imagine the glee that the children all feel about getting up at the crack of dawn and all the mushy feelings that they now have for Shane. They do what any kid would do in such a case: Set up a booby trap. Actually, this is really the only instance of this. I really thought that the movie would have a lot more of this "contrived kids trying to drive the unwanted authority figure away" material, but it doesn’t. The trap goes wrong anyway and instead drives the nanny over the edge, causing her to leave. Now it is just Shane and the kids and the obligatory changing the diaper scene.

The next day is the first weekday that Shane will be taking care of the kids and that means getting them to school; getting them there on time to boot as it turns out. Apparently the kids have a problem getting to class, and if they are late one more time, they will be suspended. CUT TO: The worst "suit up" scene I have ever seen and then we’re careening off toward the school. Arriving seconds before the deadline in the principals office, we are introduced to the vice principle, or as he is affectionately called, “The Murnanater”. Everybody Loves Raymond’s own Brad Garrett is one who brings this non-sinister bad guy to life. It is a lot like the character that he is famous for only with the ego that comes from being the BMOC/head jock in high school.

This is where the film kicks into high speed covering a number of “mandatory” family movie scenes. We do get a love interest in this movie that is not the mother of the children, but the principal of the school. So that’s different. The principal is played by Lorelai Gilmore herself, Lauren Graham. And you know that they will end up together from her first scene where she mentions that she used to be in the Navy. There is the conflict between the secondary bad guy Murney and the teenage boy that you know Shane is going to resolve later on to further bond with the family. A prank by the kids to show that they still haven’t fallen in line or bonded with Shane yet. Some obligatory mommy duties that Shane has to do; the best of which is the Peter Panda dance. Don’t forget the party that the kids have to throw the first chance they get, and the clean up afterwards (which was done well here). This is all stuff that shows the rift between commando and child ’til…

The Nation’s Punched, Move #217 – "The Cleaning Sweep"

NINJAS! I’m not kidding. Ninjas show up right in the middle of the “come to a head” scene between Shane and the kids. They bust in all rolling and flipping with expandable batons swinging. The following scene goes a long way to back up the statement in the commentary that this movie was initially written for Jackie Chan. This attack clears any contempt that the kids had for Shane away and they accept each other and finally bond. With this new bond forged Shane begins anew on his assignment managing to not only keep them safe but also to solve some giant problem that hangs over each of the kids. Using his military knowledge to combat these problems, he manages to make them all better people, improving their self-esteem and confidence montage style.

We still have the uber weapon problem to deal with, though. The mom and the C.O. are able to retrieve the safety deposit box but it was only a piece of the final solution to the whereabouts of the device. The other lies at the Plummer home, and leave it to Gary the Duck to find it. Just when you think the good guys are going to win… NINJAS! Yep, they show up again and subdue the entire family. However, with the kids now all filled with self-confidence, they are able to escape their captors… and well, I’m sure you know the rest.

When you said the uniform would be Batman & Robin-like, I didn’t think you meant just the nipples and codpiece.

It is somewhat formulaic. Take an action star (well, you could debate that point) and thrust him into situations that you don’t normally find him in. Add in the nice three-act structure to the Shane vs. kids’ storyline. It is what it is; you know the movie before you put it in. That being said, it is not a bad one. It didn’t cause me to cringe really at any point in time. Well, minus Brad Garrett in spandex. Comical but scary. Vin does a good job of being an “action” star in a family movie. (Whatever that means!) The best acting in the movie is of course the duck; he should really blow up after this.

Oh, and as it turns out, the Dr. was right in the beginning… Shane does love his kids.

7.5 out of 10

Why won’t this thing shut up? It keeps asking us if we like "skinny girls".

The Look

We get to go through the adventures in babysitting in full on widescreen (2.35:1 – the thick bars) presentation. It is not the sharpest picture but it still looks very good… just not as good as you think a movie put out this year would. The colors are pretty toned down as well, so we’re not talking something that is going to push your higher end setups. That also helps to give it a nice quaint suburban feel, though. One particular visual item I have to mention is in the beginning. Besides the crappy underwater shooting is the helicopter explosion. It looks like something out of a Sommers movie. (Yes, I’m saying it has a bad CGI helicopter stunt.)

7.5 out of 10

The Noise

The 5.1 Dolby Digital is done pretty well. There was nothing neither amazing nor lacking in the sound design. (Well, minus the video game stuff I mentioned above.) There were a couple of lines that stood out as being looped, but for the most part it was fine.

7.1 out of 10

"Your disguise doesn’t fool me. You’re going down, Darkwing Duck.

The Goodies

Yeah, I don’t know if the term “good”ies really applies here. There are a number of features on the disc but… well at least is has some features. It actually would have scored better if it only had the commentary (and the Man vs. Duck commercial) as the rest of this brings the quality of the disc down.

1.) “Outrageous Bloopers” – I wouldn’t so much call this a blooper reel as much as I would “stuff I picked off the editing room floor” reel. This is the worst collection of non-moments that may have ever been falsely labeled as a “bonus”.

2.) Deleted Scenes – Five deleted scenes none of which are longer than 12 sec. I don’t even know where half of them would have gone, and there is only one good one anyway (a touching moment between man and duck).

3.) A on the set feature about Vin Diesel – Hey apparently Vin Diesel likes babies… so much so that they had to tell you that for three minutes straight.

4.) A on the set feature about Brad Garrett – Essentially Brad Garrett standing around in spandex waiting for Vin to get there so he could steal the scene from him.

5.) Special Ops TV Commercials – Just what it says. About 5 or so commercials ran back to back. If you do watch it, there is one commercial (#4, I think) that makes the whole movie out to be a Man vs. Duck story… I like that one.

6.) Audio Commentary w/ Director & 2 Writers – The best bonus feature on the disc. The commentary is funny and entertaining as well as featuring comments on the movie making process. Not particularly in depth, but stuff like problem shots, mistakes, and script changes. They keep it pretty loose and carry a good rapport. I’d listen to this track again.

7.0 out of 10

"You guys suck and MEG is goin to bom…"

The Artwork

Simple image of Vin looking all “hard” with a toddler and an infant strapped to him, flanked by another child and a duck. The best part about the cover is the duck, because if you look closely, the duck is actually balancing on a ball. He must have a really good trainer.

6.0 out of 10

"Hey, nice shoes Nick."

Overall: 7.2 out of 10