Tooth Fairy
The Rock in a Tutu

One of the first things they teach you in screenwriting classes is that most audience members will decide whether or not they like a movie within the first ten minutes.  I find this generally to be true, but I have found a number of exceptions: movies that took their time earning my affection.  Tooth Fairy turned me off rather quickly, but could it be one of the exceptions?  Unfortunately, it was not.

The movie stars Dwayne Johnson (the actor formerly known as The Rock) as Derek Thompson, a professional hockey player nicknamed “The Tooth Fairy.”  He earned this nickname by annihilating members of the opposing team, often hitting them so hard they lose some teeth.  Derek didn’t always play this way.  He used to be a scorer until an injury sidelined him.  Instead of getting back in shape, Derek chose to give up on his dreams and lower his expectations.

This philosophy has carried over to his personal life, where he is dating a single mother with two kids.  When Derek tells the younger one that there is no tooth fairy, he is summoned to Fairyland and convicted of dissemination of dreams.  He is sentenced to serve two weeks as an actual tooth fairy.  This, of course, leads the movie’s ultimate gag: The Rock in a tutu.

Dwayne Johnson as fairy Derek in Tooth FairyUltimately, The Rock in a tutu gag is not really that funny, but that’s not what turned me off of the film.  Nor was it the clichéd plot that shoves its “dreams are important” message down the throat with extra sugar.  What turned me off in the all-important first ten minutes of this movie was when, after a game, everyone waiting outside the locker room to get Derek’s autograph is convinced that he had retired.  Weren’t these the same people that were just chanting his nickname, holding up signs with his name on it and cheering violently when he increased an opponent’s dental bill?  Aren’t they waiting outside the locker room to get his autograph?  It is really the moment that sets the plot in motion, and it just felt too false for me.

From there things don’t get much better.  Most of the jokes are focused on Derek’s ill-fated attempts to fulfill his tooth fairy duties and they feel very stale.  The special effects are on par with Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, but unfortunately a comparison to a 20-year-old movie is not much of a compliment when it comes to special effects.  The Rock can only mug for the camera so much and I was surprised to see Ashley Judd, formerly such a big star, in such a pedestrian role as the single mother.

Fortunately, what saves Tooth Fairy from being a completely horrible movie are the supporting characters, who provide some delightful comedy in unfortunately small doses.  Billy Crystal has a great cameo as the fairy world’s version of James Bond’s Q.  He reminded me a lot of his Miracle Max character in The Princess Bride. Also on hand is Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane as shifty fairy dealing in bad supplies and the always funny Stephen Merchant as Derek’s case worker.  Julie Andrews lends some dignity to the production as the head fairy, quite a feat for a movie that, once again, puts The Rock in a tutu.

As delightful as some of the supporting characters are, however, they can’t save this movie from being one worth skipping.  The message is sweet and important, but the packaging is stale and dull.

Tooth Fairy is rated PG for “mild language, some rude humor and sports action.”  There’s some violent hockey action, but other than that this is a fairly tame movie intended for kids.

Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of Tooth Fairy.