January 22, 2010 by USA Post
Billy Crystal:If you’ve seen the poster, you know almost everything you need to know about Tooth Fairy. Dwayne Johnson plays a massive, muscled hockey player who suddenly sprouts wings and takes a shift as the eponymous dental pixie.
His biceps are large, his attitude baaaad. His feathery white membranes peak like a dove’s. All that’s missing is an image of The Rock in his official fairy regalia, which consists of a shiny satin pajama top over baby-blue tights. It’s not a good look for him, but it’s better than the alarming pink tutu he first wears when he’s recruited and zapped to Fairyland.
All in all, you’d be hard pressed to find a sillier, milder or more predictable movie. And you’d be correct in pegging it as The Santa Clause in nylons (director Michael Lembeck helmed Clause 2 and Clause 3.) Yet Tooth Fairy isn’t half bad, outfitted with gently funny high jinks that place its brawny lead in progressively ridiculous circumstances. The nontoxic silliness of the thing seems altogether fitting, given the subject matter; no doubt Lars von Trier could make a film about the tooth fairy, but it probably wouldn’t be marketed to children.
When we first meet Derek “Tooth Fairy” Thompson, he’s smashing an opposing player through the Plexiglas at a minor-league hockey game. After the poor fella’s tooth flies toward the ceiling to the joy of announcers (“It’s an incisor!”), Derek retires to the penalty box with a feculent grin on his handsome mug. His teeth are intact. Later, he tells his girlfriend’s (Ashley Judd) daughter (Destiny Grace Whitlock) that the other sort of tooth fairy doesn’t exist. Then he steals the cash under her pillow. The guy’s got it coming to him, that’s clear.
“It” arrives in the form of a summons from the Department of Dissemination of Disbelief, where Derek suddenly finds himself in the aforementioned tutu. There he meets Julie Andrews (as the stern fairy boss-lady), Stephen Merchant (as a wingless fairy caseworker who has, in Derek’s words, “the eyes of a big tuna”) and Billy Crystal (as an outfitter of such useful fairy gear as shrinking paste, invisibility spray and short-term amnesia dust).
The Crystal scenes are amusing. So are a few of the broader, battier comic escapades as Derek begins his stint as a fairy. Reducing him to a helium-voiced mini-Rock and flushing him down the toilet (off-screen) are obvious-enough gags, but I won’t deny laughing at them. And my fourth-grader spent much of the time in stitches.
A half-dozen writers contributed to the screenplay, and which ones came up with which jokes is anyone’s guess. I liked the crack about Johnson’s Easter Island head — I never noticed the resemblance before, but wow — and didn’t much mind the usual dose of sentimental moralizing, a compulsory part of every family comedy.
So Derek does penance, gathers teeth and learns important lessons. Lembeck deserves some credit for the movie’s low-level elfin campiness, but Tooth Fairy would be substantially less likable without Johnson’s native-born flair for self-abasement. That’s somewhere in the poster, too.
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