I Can’t Handle the Tooth
Friday, January 22, 2010
Credit: Twentieth Century Fox
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson dons tights again this time to play a “Tooth Fairy” (opening January 22 throughout San Diego).
In “The Game Plan,” Dwayne Johnson put on some tights and a leotard to show that real men can dance. Now he’s forced to wear a tutu and tights as punishment for not believing that Tooth Fairies are real. At one point Johnson looked poised to have a career as an action star but now -- like Eddie Murphy -- he seems to have decided that there’s more money to be made in family films.
This time out Johnson is Derek, a hockey player who has no patience for anyone with dreams. He was once an NHL star with dreams of fame and fortune but now he’s a lower division goon known as the Tooth Fairy for his hard-hitting checks that sometimes dislodge opponents’ teeth. He’s also dating a woman (Ashley Judd) with two young kids. When the little girl loses a tooth and places it under her pillow it’s Derek’s job to make sure the Tooth Fairy pays a visit. When he fails at this simple task he tries to get out of trouble by telling the little girl Tooth Fairies don’t exist. That’s when the fairies gets their wings all in a flutter and takes their revenge. He’s forced into fairy servitude and finds himself sprouting wings and working for Julie Andrews. Now he’s got to do Tooth Fairy duty until he proves he believes and values the power of imagination. If you believe in fairies, just clap your hands!
There are about five minutes of fun in “Tooth Fairy” and it all involves Billy Crystal’s all too brief cameo. Essentially he’s to “Tooth Fairy” what Betty White was to “The Proposal” – he’s a comedy vet that makes a lame film momentarily tolerable. Stephan Merchant as Derek’s fairy trainer and Julie Andrews as the fairy head honcho also have some amusing moments but not nearly enough to make this film bearable.
At 100 minutes “Tooth Fairy” feels, well, long in the tooth (that's for all the bad "tooth" puns the film subjected me to!). It’s also predictable in its formula contrivances. But then what can you expect from director Michael Lembeck whose credits include “The Santa Clause 2” and “The Santa Clause 3.” I mean couldn't we have gotten the director of "The Santa Clause 1"? If this film only ranks a sequels director then we can't really expect too much. Lembeck directs the film like a TV sitcom, fully believing that men in tights, pratfalls, and cheap effects will elicit laughs. (The fairy wings are so cheap they look like they were bought at Target and the filmmakers have to avoid shots that let you see them from the back because they look sewn into the actors' clothes.) But the only way that will happen is if he inserts a laugh track.Okay maybe I’m being too harsh. Five-year-olds will probably laugh at this film, up until the point Derek tries to shatter everyone's dreams with a cold hard dose of reality. Then they might cry.
Johnson has appeal and has proven himself a capable action star in film such as “The Rundown” and “Walking Tall.” But if he wants to be a family film comedy star he needs to start finding some better material. This film feels like minimal effort was put into it as it just tried to replicate the formula of films such as "Kindergarten Cop," "Mr. Nanny," and "The Pacifier."
"Tooth Fairy" (rated PG for mild language, some rude humor and sports action) is nothing more than a calculated Hollywood product hoping to cash in on The Rock's appeal and the fact that there's not much for kids in theaters right now. At one point Derek says, "Lower your expectations, that's how you'll be happy." That's also good advice to take when you head out to see thi movie.
Companion viewing" "The Rundown," "Bedazzled" (1967, check it out for what the magic words are), "Peter Pan"
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