Fox // 2010 // 101 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // May 13th, 2010
The tooth hurts.
"I hope this works."
Derek Thompson (Dwayne Johnson, The Rundown) was once one of the most popular professional hockey players in the game, but his glory days are far behind him. Now he's stuck playing in the minor leagues, though he continues to make a reputation for himself as an incredibly violent player. In fact, Derek is so well-known for knocking out the teeth of other players that he's been nicknamed "The Tooth Fairy."
Derek's girlfriend is Carly (Ashley Judd, Bug), a single mother of two. When Derek tells Carly's daughter that there's no such thing a real tooth fairy, Carly isn't the only person who gets angry with him. Before you can say, "You can't handle the tooth," Derek is swept away to Fairy Land, where he is given a pair of wings and informed that he's being forced to go on Tooth Fairy duty as punishment for destroying the dreams of children. Will Derek learn to believe in the power of belief? Will he restore the little girl's faith in the Tooth Fairy? How long will he be able to maintain his secret identity as winged being with supernatural powers? Learn the answers to these profound questions and more in Tooth Fairy!
It's easy to look at the promotional materials for Tooth Fairy and immediately place it in the "year's worst films" category without even bothering to examine the contents of the movie. Around the time of the film's release, I read/heard many comments of the, "I'd rather have a tooth pulled than sit through Tooth Fairy," variety. Fair enough, but if we're being objective and honest rather than indulging our initial knee-jerk reactions, the film actually isn't that bad. It's not good by any means, but I've seen much worse and so have you. Tooth Fairy is bland, serviceable, formulaic family fodder performed with enthusiasm by an overqualified cast.
The film's central idea ("Dwayne Johnson is a Tooth Fairy!") provides most of the entertainment, as the trips to Fairy Land are pleasant affairs. Yes, there's the basic comedy of seeing The Artist Formerly Known as The Rock wearing a pink tutu (quickly changed to a baby blue pajama-suit), but the real grins come from the collection of supporting players indulging in every form of dentally themed humor imaginable. You get Julie Andrews (The Sound of Music) as the stern-yet-kind Tooth Fairy Godmother, Billy Crystal (The Princess Bride) as the Tooth Fairy equivalent of "Q," and Seth McFarlane (Family Guy) as Ziggy, a shady figure who deals in...um...magical dental supplements. Best of all is the lanky Stephen Merchant (Extras), whose cheerfully offbeat brand of comedy does a nice job of offsetting the overwhelmingly conventional feel of the movie. Meanwhile, Johnson takes his usual winking approach to playing the straight man and is perfectly charming in the part. When these players get a chance to mix it up, the film is smile-inducing no matter how wearisome the actual material may be.
When the movie leaves Fairy Land, things get a little more problematic. There are too many tiresome subplots littered throughout the proceedings, none of which really manage to stir our interest. First, Derek engages in a heated rivalry with his obnoxious hotshot teammate (things get worse and worse until suddenly they become friends). Second, Derek starts having relationship problems with his girlfriend (things get worse and worse until suddenly they become engaged). Third, young Randy (Chase Ellison) wants to be a rock star, but Derek keeps trampling on his dreams (things get worse and worse until suddenly Derek encourages Randy and makes everything better). These are handled in such an unconvincing manner; they feel like lame attempts at giving the film "substance."
I'm also a little bothered by the manner in which the familiar "believe in yourself and follow your dreams" message is so aggressively shoved down the viewer's throat. Look, following your dreams is great and all, but Mean First-Act Derek sort of has a point when he advises a kid to, "lower your expectations." Much as you may want to be a pro hockey player, there's a sizable chance you may just have to settle for being an accountant who plays in a local amateur hockey league. As with most children's films, there is no greater crime in this world than failing to believe that you are the absolute best at everything you do. I'm not saying it's a bad message, really. But aren't there so many other valuable lessons that deserve to be imparted by formulaic family films? Haven't we heard enough of this one for a while? Some viewers may also be a little troubled by the parallels to religious faith in the film, suggesting that only bad people with broken lives refuse to believe in magical beings they cannot see. Okay, so I'm overthinking it. The message that most viewers are likely to take away from the film is that Dwayne Johnson + Fairy Wings = Giggles.
The hi-def transfer is solid, even if the film is fairly unmemorable from a visual standpoint. The most intriguing scenes visually are those that take place in Fairy Land, as they're given a pale, bright, pastel-dominant look. The scenes set in the real world have a considerably more generic look, though detail is solid throughout. Facial detail is particularly strong, despite a touch of softness on occasion. Flesh tones are warm and accurate, while blacks are impressively deep. The audio gets the job done, with the hockey games particularly managing to stir up a nice bit of chaos that will work out your speakers. George S. Clinton's score, though predictably generic, comes through with clarity and blends nicely with the dialogue.
The extras are surprisingly generous for a film of this sort, beginning with an audio commentary with director Michael Lembeck and a 38-minute making-of documentary that focuses on the technical side of creating the film. You also get a 20-minute feature called "Tooth Fairy Training Center," which provides a Tooth Fairy-themed workout for the kids, plus "Fairy-Oke" (4 minutes), which is pretty self-explanatory. There's also a brief introduction to the Blu-ray disc from Lembeck, a blooper reel, some deleted scenes and a theatrical trailer. Finally, you get a DVD copy and a digital copy.
Tooth Fairy is exactly what you expect it to be, nothing more and nothing less. Kids will like it, as will people like my co-worker who have a Dwayne Johnson fetish.
Guilty of being dentally challenged.
Review content copyright © 2010 Clark Douglas; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English, DVS)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 101 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Deleted Scenes
* Workout Video
* DVD Copy
* Digital Copy