Tooth Fairy
Fox // PG // $29.99 // May 4, 2010
Review by Bill Gibron | posted April 28, 2010
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The Product:
It's time for Hollywood to admit that the experiment to turn Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson into the next Arnold Schwarzenegger has failed. Heck, he currently can't match Jean-Claude Van Damme or Chuck Norris in overall action adventure cache. Throughout his carefully constructed career, he's tried to balance big screen thrills with flailing family laughs - and the results have been routine, at best. There's no Predator, no Commando, or Terminator in his oeuvre. Even worse, he can't match Twins, or (god help us) a Jingle All the Way. For some reason, the former WWE star can't smell what he himself is cooking cinematically, from limp stunt showpieces to arc, unoriginal laughers. Case in point - Tooth Fairy. Though the concept has been floating around Tinseltown for decades, it's no longer 'high'...or hilarious. Instead, the notion of a big league hockey player wearing a tutu and wings and visiting the kiddies as the sainted symbol of dental reward is only clever if you're frame of reference is one step removed from Yo Gabba Gabba. For everyone else, it's as painful as a visit to your favorite DDS.

The Plot:
Derek Thompson is an arrogant, egoistical NHL legend who can't see that his best days are far behind him. Instead, he lets his failed aspirations soil everything he comes in contact with - including new girlfriend Carly and her ankle biters Randy and Tess. When the latter loses a baby tooth, Derek makes sure to mock the existence of a certain "fairy" as nothing short of a pathetic pre-Kindergarten pipedream. His bicuspid blasphemy earns him a one way ticket to TF headquarters and a meeting with the head honcho, Lily. For denouncing the existence of the fabled incisor imp, Derek must...shock, horror...spend time as a tooth fairy in training. With the help of uptight case worker Tracy and the master of magical inventions, Jerry, out hulking hero will learn the ins and outs of flying, late night subterfuge, successful breaking and entering, as well as how to play nice with the rest of the human population. Then, maybe, he can make Carly an honest woman and be a real role model to her confused kids.

The DVD:
Billy Crystal as Jerry. Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel as part of the screenplay process. The Rock running around in pastels and gossamer feathers. That's all you really need to know about Tooth Fairy. It's innocuous and non-threatening, and that's the perfect tone for something so banal and bland. Director Michael Lembeck, known for driving the Santa Clause franchise into the ground, believes it is 1986 and lets everything about this film - the storyline, the jokes, the acting turns and the less than special effects - clearly illustrate this idea. Battling between respectable and repugnant, Tooth Fairy is crap in only the slightest sense. It will definitely please the pre-tween crowd while giving harried guardians and diaper-drying caregivers a patented 100 minute entertainment diversion. Johnson, already established as someone capable of almost carrying a film, finds the proper balance between cockiness and kookiness while never once betraying the bizarro world ideas involved here. As a result, we kind of-sort of buy into the premise, and don't feel like running from the theater shrieking...

...that is, until Crystal shows up. Sledgehammering his dialogue like the Buddy Young Jr. he used to be/now clearly is, this over-extended cameo (which does indeed go on for far too long) signifies everything that's erroneous about Tooth Fairy. Up until the moment that his Q-like character is introduced, we can see Lambeck and the rest of the cast struggling to keep the magic intact. As fairy themed jokes, puns, and questionable entendres push and pull, we don't feel like we're being cheated and chocked on an overdose of cutesy. Then Mr. Borscht Belt shows up and turns the entire thing into his own personal Nursing Home audition tape. His rapid fire shtick fails time and time again, never once landing a giggle or delivering the sidesplitting punchlines proposed. Even worse, we can tell that Lambeck, out of fear or false admiration, simply set up his camera and let Crystal go. The results are just painful. They stain Tooth Fairy in a way that the movie can never quite recover from. While it may not be fair to blame the entire fiasco on one former funny man, the experience sure seems to dictate such a conclusion.

There are other strange, almost surreal moments here as well. Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane shows up as Ziggy, a ballsy black marketer. His appearance is brief, arcane, and ultimately futile. Similarly, a running gag revolving around amnesia powder has some potential, but is handled in a slapdash, silly manner. Indeed, a great deal of Tooth Fairy is overtly foolish, flopping around like a five-year-old that forgot to take its Ritalin. The movie never earns its emotions, tries mightily to manage its kitchen sink sense of story, and bases much of its intentions on the likability of the man wearing the wings. Besides, you can't waste true talents like Stephen Merchant (as case worker Tracy), Julie Andrews (as Lily, the head fairy) and a 'really should have known better' Ashley Judd (as Carly) and get away with it. Yet Tooth Fairy tries, and sometimes stumbles onto an interesting idea or two. Then, it rediscovers its rottenness and falls out of your head like a broken brown molar. If Johnson ever needs proof that he can weather an otherwise outdate idea, this is it. That doesn't mean the audience has to like it, however.

The Video:
As per this critic's policy, Screener copies of DVDs are not awarded points for video or audio. If FOX does send a final product version of Tooth Fairy to the site, this paragraph will be updated accordingly.

The Audio:
As per this critic's policy, Screener copies of DVDs are not awarded points for video or audio. If FOX does send a final product version of Tooth Fairy to the site, this paragraph will be updated accordingly.

The Extras:
Talk about going light on the added content. As part of this Screener copy of Tooth Fairy, FOX provides the following wealth of bonus features: a workout featurette for kids called "Tooth Fairy Training Center"; an embarrassing sing-along with Merchant and Johnson called - get this - "Fairyoke" (hardy har har!); some trailers. That's it. Not exactly a cornucopia of insight and explanation into the entire production process. Of course, for something aimed at the keep them quiet in the back seat crowd, that's almost too much extra material.

Final Thoughts:
If this review seems a little erratic, that's because Tooth Fairy produces that kind of reaction. Sometimes, despite itself, things in this tired attempt at fantasy funny business click. At other instances, you can see everyone involved, including the studio, straining to make this monkey dance. As a result, this is yet another uncertain title in what is rapidly becoming an unimpressive acting resume for the former wrestling icon. Still, some may enjoy watching Johnson play against type - and who knows, there may still be some fans of Crystal's creaky old folks quips. It makes sense then to give Tooth Fairy a Rent It. This way, the curious and the converted can enjoy the attempt without going bankrupt - financially or morally. Until he hits that long awaited massive mainstream homerun, The Rock will always be an action/acting wannabe. Tooth Fairy brings him closer to finding such fame. It also brings him nearer to losing it as well.

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