Dwayne Johnson continues to establish a slow build of respectability as a leading actor since his departure from World Wrestling Entertainment and his persona of "The Rock." What I did not expect was that he would throw himself into more family-oriented fare. He's done some entertaining action films for adult audiences, but he's also starred in the Disney remake of Race to Witch Mountain, and in Tooth Fairy, he stars in more all-ages entertainment.
Written by the longtime duo of Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel (Fever Pitch) and directed by Michael Lembeck (Santa Clause 3), Johnson is Derek Thompson, a gritty minor league hockey player nicknamed "The Tooth Fairy," as his body checks are known for both their though impact and the subsequent dental reparations. He's comfortable in his role on the team, and dating Carly (Ashley Judd, Heat) couldn't be going any better. However, Derek's comfort in his role has given him a great deal of realism through the years. He inadvertently tells kids who are full of dreams and optimism to pursue nobler efforts because somewhere, out there is someone younger, tougher and more talented than they are. This causes Derek to be sentenced to a week's worth of hard labor as a tooth fairy, which causes an impact on his playing and his family, but if it'll cure him of his disbelief, what's the harm?
Honestly, it's only right that Lembeck was called into direct such a film, because so much of it is eerily reminiscent of the Santa Clause movies. Guy who goes against the traditional children's icon is pulled reluctantly into the responsibilities the icon has, and the intended result is 90 minutes of hilarity for the ankle biters in the crowd. However, Johnson, through no fault of his own, is not Tim Allen. The casting of Judd, along with Stephen Merchant (The Invention of Lying) as fellow fairy apprentice Tracy, and no less than Julie Andrews (The Sound of Music) as Lily, the Head Fairy, tries to make you forget than Johnson doesn't possess the comedic chops for this role. It's not to say that he never will, but coming from his last job where "selling" was an art form, to borrow one of his catchphrases I just wasn't smelling what The Rock was cooking.
It's a shame too, because in hands that are more competent this film could have at least been serviceable. Judd goes virtually unused in the film, unless being a film mom is giving her practice for being a real mom, and Merchant is a frequent collaborator with the brilliant Ricky Gervais. Funny in his own right, he seems to have just been told to be tall, goofy and effeminately British, which for a film as wholly unenjoyable is this was a catastrophic error in judgment. Billy Crystal, longtime Ganz and Mandel friend who appears in the film as a "Q" figure of sorts, showing Derek the tools of the trade, was presumably designed to fill the same sort of role that he did as Miracle Max in (The Princess Bride, but we're subjected to minutes of unfunny and painful barbs some would call
It's movies like Tooth Fairy which make me wonder about Johnson's thought process in accepting the role. He's trying to broaden his name recognition among as many demographics as possible, but he's had an eye to quality at times before, why not exercise it now? Oh yeah, family film for another major studio, I forgot. Thanks a lot Dwayne. Less flash, more substance.
The Blu-ray Disc:
Fox presents Tooth Fairy in an AVC-encoded 1.85:1 widescreen effort that is a straightforward, workmanlike reproduction of the film in high definition. Blacks are consistent and deep through the film and maintain a good contrast, while image detail is good, not great. There's a hint of background depth in the image, and shadow delineation is not too shabby either.
The DTS-HD Master Audio track brings the goods during the hockey sequences; skates cut through the ice and pan through all channels, body checks possess low-end fidelity and crowd noise is immersive. Not awesome, but certainly effective. However, those sequences are rare, and the dialogue sequences come through weaker than I was expecting. They require a lot of compensation, and any sort of complementary directional effects are nonexistent. A disappointing effort from Fox.
Things start with a commentary from Lembeck that to his credit is decent. He also brings the obligatory praise for cast and crew. There are long gaps of silence, presumably where he's watching the film, but he adds a fair amount of insight to the film. The Behind the Scenes piece of the disc (38:55) examines the difficulty of shooting fake wings on actors and the challenges of making Johnson appear tiny in one of the film's sequences. With commentary by Lembeck and Visual Effects Supervisor Jake Morrison, they show you side-by-side comparison footage, test footage, storyboards and other practically shot film which turned into neat special effects for the film.
Moving on, the "Tooth Fairy Training Center" (20:31) appears to be an exercise routine for the youngsters after they've watched the movie. It even includes warm-up stretching to boot. Well, anything to get ready for Universal Health Care, I guess. "Fairy-oke" is a sing-along set top program for the kids to sing some songs. A painfully unfunny gag reel is next (2:34), and six deleted scenes (8:23) include a romantic interest (of sorts) for Carly's son, but that's about it. An introduction to the supplements by Lembeck kicks all of this off too, by the way (:22). Fox also makes this a three disc combo pack, with the Blu-ray, standard definition and digital copy discs of the film housed nicely in the case.
While I understand what Tooth Fairy did in its intent, its execution was poor, tiring and unoriginal, with many actors who have done better in other areas. Technically it's a fair disc, though supplementally it's nothing to write home about. I guess if you want to "set and forget" your kids for 90 minutes it does the job, but they should be out playing anyway.