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The Slip Doesn’t Fit and Neither Does the Script

Movie Title: Tooth Fairy (2010)
Spoilers: No

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The sight of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson wearing tights has, say, 3 seconds of comedic visual appeal. After those three seconds are up, seeing a 6’5 man dressed in a fairy outfit (as though to make third-graders laugh) is…well…not funny anymore.

Seeing Tooth Fairy, featuring that most intellectual of wrestlers named Johnson is all about taking in the sight of a tall, muscular man with the curiously charismatic ability to raise an eyebrow a bit more than your average fellow. The camera hits him from every angle. Ordinarily, he’s something to see, but…not like this. None of his actions or words are spectacular enough to take the focus off of the fact that what you are watching is, as stated, a man in a fairy outfit that was funny seeing for the first three seconds only.

Johnson plays Derek Thompson, a.k.a. “The Tooth Fairy,” a smug, unsympathetic, unhappy, and imaginatively bankrupt pro hockey player who has seen better days. He’s still driving his ‘84 Vette, which he probably bought new. That year of Corvette was plagued with problems, more so than any other year, so it’s a good comparison to Thompson, a guy fraught with problems.

His nickname comes from his brutalizing players from the opposing teams on the ice, making them lose their teeth. He keeps a seat warm in every penalty box in America. It’s been years since he’s actually strategized to win a fair-on game. Accordingly, his team captain uses him to do just what he loves to do—the “dirty work” to give the good players the edge they need.

Thompson has another problem; he discourages the gleeful ambitions of his young fans, many of them little kids who dream of one day becoming great. He spares them not but points out how for every 13-year-old kid trying to be good at something, some 12-year-old is out there somewhere and is going to be trying even hard, or maybe that kid just has more raw talent and gets the edge. The message: Don’t dream. The bigger the dreamer you are, the bigger the disappointed loser you will become!

In some lofty meeting room in the supernatural realm, where the coffee is always fresh and the gods are busy letting Haitian-level disasters go on unabated, it is decided that Derek needs to be taught a lesson. As it happens, Thompson has a girlfriend, Carly (Ashley Judd). He tries to tell her little girl that the Tooth Fairy doesn’t exist. What better than to charge him with “a crime against fantasy,” give him wings, put him in a ridiculous tutu, and make him do two weeks of tooth fairy duty? Sounds like a plan. Heaven is concerned with giving American children dollar bills when they lose teeth. Forget the dying Ethiopians who need the real help.

The head fairy, well played by a fresh-looking Julie Andrews (who still looks enchanting after all these years), ushers a disappointed Thompson into her fairy office and sees to it that he does his job. When he’s hooked up with “fairy gear,” he’s ready. The audience isn’t.

It is from this point that you get to see Thompson shrink down and dodge cat claws, throw “forget dust” in people’s faces, and otherwise fumble around in strangers’ homes in a most embarrassing and dignity-lacking manner.

Thompson meets some good friends, one of them is Tracy (Stephen Merchant), a 6’7 fairy with “no wing complex,” who happens to be a spitting image of the cool euro-gay guy who works in accounts payable at your office. Family Guy/American Dad/The Cleveland Show creator Seth MacFarlane makes an appearance as Ziggy, a “junkie” fairy, selling the “smack” equivalent of tools for the job. A woefully curt appearance by Billy Crystal as fairy “Lawrence” doesn’t do much to advance the plot.

The only halfway redeeming quality in this unconvincing execution of a story is the relationship that develops between Thompson and Carly’s son, Randy (Chase Ellison), an aspiring guitar playing prodigy who, it could be argued, stole the show with awesome acting and a crying scene towards the end that is among the best I’ve ever seen.

Here we are at that point in the review where we are led to mention (in light of other lacking accomplishments) how the movie has such “a good message.” It may have, but it has nothing beyond an After School Special level of development that leaves those of us who are not still in grade school without much to work with. Schmaltzy and unsatisfying, there won’t be too many waiting in line for this meal.

(JH)

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Grade: C- (2 Stars)
Rated: PG (for mild language and sports action)
Director: Michael Lembeck
Summary: A bad deed on the part of a tough minor-league hockey player results in him having to serve as a real-life tooth fairy.
Starring: Dwayne Johnson “Derek Thompson / Tooth Fairy,” Ashley Judd “Carly,” Stephen Merchant “Tracy,” Ryan Sheckler “Mick Donnelly,” Seth MacFarlane “Ziggy,” Julie Andrews “Lily,” Chase Ellison “Randy,” Destiny Whitlock “Tess”
Genre: Comedy / Fantasy / Family
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