Double Feature

September 2006 - Can you smell it? The ink. The chalk dust. The kid who forgot to shower. Yes, school is back in session. So, here are a couple of movies where school figures marginally into the plot.

We'll start with The Pacifier, a 2005 comedy starring Vin Diesel as a Navy SEAL assigned to protect the five Plummer children while their mother goes overseas. The kids' father, a government scientist, was killed by people who want to get their hands on his latest invention, something called Ghost.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I admit missing the first few minutes of this movie. When I tuned in, Plummer's wife, played by Faith Ford, was just about to head for Switzerland, where Plummer left the key to Ghost in a safety deposit box. Diesel was showing up to protect the kids.

His assignment lasts longer than planned because Mom doesn't know the password to the safety deposit box. So, while she sits in the Swiss bank, thinking and thinking and thinking about what the password could possibly be, Diesel changes the baby, learns the peter Panda Dance, teaches martial arts to a troop of brownie types, directs a musical, teaches daughter #1 to drive, and humiliates the school's vice principal. He also finds time to flirt with the principal, an ex-Navy officer played by Lauren Graham. Phew!

Overall review: Ehhh, it was OK. Entertaining in spots. But, despite trying to be a feel-good comedy, this movie felt very mean-spirited.

The Pacifier is rated PG. You can find it on video or DVD.

Kate Hudson finds love in the schoolyard in Garry Marshall's 2004 comedy Raising Helen. John Corbett and Joan Cusack also star. Paris Hilton makes a cameo.

Hudson plays Helen Harris, an up-and-comer in the world of high-fashion. She's an assistant to the head of one of New York’s top modeling agencies. But, it's clear that Helen's got it going on and is destined for big things.

Until, that is, her favorite big sister (Felicity Huffman) gets wiped out by a tractor trailer. The will makes it clear that big sis wants Helen to raise the kids. That doesn't make middle sister and supermom, Jenny (Cusack), too happy, but she goes along. So, Helen packs up the kids, moves to Queens, and enrolls them in a Lutheran school run by the hunky – and single – Pastor Dan (Corbett).

Overall review: Ehhh, it was OK. Hudson and Corbett are easy to watch, and the movie had some cute moments. But, it seemed disjointed. Here's the part where Helen sulks about losing her job; here's the part where Helen starts seeing Pastor Dan; here's the part where Helen succeeds at her new job; here's the part where Helen can't deal with the kids. The movie had a lot of parts which didn’t quite make a coherent whole. Still, the movie manages to leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy.

Raising Helen is rated PG-13. It's available on video or DVD.