Mark Reviews Movies

TOOTH FAIRY

1  Stars (out of 4)

Director: Michael Lembeck

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Ashley Judd, Stephen Merchant, Julie Andrews, Chase Ellison, Destiny Grace Whitlock

MPAA Rating: PG (for mild language, some rude humor and sports action)

Running Time: 1:41

Release Date: 1/22/10


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Review by Mark Dujsik | January 21, 2010

For a movie with a main argument to encourage people's dreams and fantasies, Tooth Fairy is without much imagination. It is also the first time I can recall in which Dwayne Johnson not only picked bad material but also couldn't help salvage it with his usual charm. In fact, Johnson's character in this movie is a bit of a jackass.

Johnson plays Derek, a former major-league hockey player who was booted down to the minors after a shoulder injury. As he's played by Johnson, he's not exactly the typical physicality of a hockey player, and his trademark is being known as the "Tooth Fairy" for his propensity to knock opponents' teeth out because of his devastating hits (after a player is sent flying through the protective glass, I suppose it's lucky that's the most damage he does to the away team).

Johnson isn't happy with his lot in life. We know this because when a kid tells Derek he's going to grow up to be a professional hockey player, Derek goes on a rant about how many other talented kids his age there are, how he'll have to compete against them later on, and that it's better to lower his expectations. It's not bad advice, but the approach certainly could use a little polish. The kid looks devastated.

Why Derek is so miserable is a mystery. He's famous for his on-ice pummeling (He even has a recliner in the penalty box just for him). People cheer and chant his nickname. Fans line up after the game for his autograph. He has a pretty girlfriend Carly (Ashley Judd) with two kids, Tess (Destiny Grace Whitlock), who loves him, and Randy (Chase Ellison), who lies to his mom that her boyfriend is cool and later starts to think Derek's cool of his own accord. He clearly isn't hurting financially.

Yes, he wanted to be in the majors, but he obviously hasn't heeded his own advice.

Derek's predictable turnaround starts when he almost tells Tess that the Tooth Fairy doesn't exist. Carly gets mad, sends him home, and he finds a summons to fairyland under his pillow.

Fairyland is a fanatically fascist fantasy realm where the tyrannical fairy godmother Lily (Julie Andrews) cannot stand being interrupted, forces non-believers to serve out Tooth Fairy duty sentences that could be extended indefinitely if she doesn't think you're meeting some very open-ended rules, and hordes baby teeth in ornate glass boxes for no discernable reason. Derek gets two weeks of service, is granted Halloween-costume-grade wings and a ballet outfit, and can be called upon any time of day or night to fulfill his duties, whether he is about to make out with Carly or in the middle of a big game.

And this is for just starting to say the Tooth Fairy doesn't exist. I'd hate to think what the punishment is for Santa-related offenses.

Fairyland is a bright and cheery train terminal of a place, where a big board tells where kids have lost teeth and a boring cafeteria-style break room. I'd imagine Fairyland being, you know, a little more imaginative, but hey, apparently Derek's motto is the movie's for the audience: lower your expectations.

Derek's caseworker is Tracy (Stephen Merchant), a fairy without wings who really wants to be out in the field, collecting teeth for no apparent motive for his totalitarian boss. The problem, as one would expect from such a fascist cabal, is that Tracy is genetically inferior: no wings, no opportunity. If Derek, a complete non-believer and non-fairy, can be awarded wings, why can't Tracy be thrown a bone? Why anyone would want to believe in such a place without the fear of reprisal is an even greater mystery than Derek's unhappiness.

Tracy, by the way, can only be seen by the people he wants to see him, which is a trait lost on his genetic superiors, who have to resort to such trickery as invisibility spray, shrinking paste, amnesia powder, and a magic wand that can do anything as long as you believe. Billy Crystal, who makes the second off-hand comment about leprechauns (Seriously, Lily, what did they ever do to you?), appears in a two-scene cameo, handing out all these handy little devices that will obviously come into play as Derek serves his sentence.

I don't feel the need to tell you where the movie goes, because it should be obvious when I relate the following little plot tidbits: Randy enters into a talent show, Derek decides to start taking scoring opportunities again, and Tracy thinks he can break down the bias against the wing-less. There's a montage, naturally, and, yes, Derek does transform into a Tooth Fairy during a hockey game, to the stunned amazement of the crowd. Nothing comes of it but, remember, lower your expectations.

Derek, by the way, stays a curmudgeonly spoil-sport even after deciding not to be. Yes, he's a jackass, but after seeing how bad those dream-makers in the Fairyland of Tooth Fairy are, we almost can't blame him.

Copyright 2010 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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