The Tooth Fairy
I’m ready to pull teeth right out of kids’ heads, ma’am.

Theatrical Release Date: 01/22/2010
Director: Michael Lembeck
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Ashley Judd, Stephen Merchant, Julie Andrews, Chase Ellison, Destiny Whitlock, Billy Crystal, Ryan Sheckler, Seth MacFarlane

Well, as I’ve said many times before, January is a dumping ground for films held in low esteem by studios or those in the horror or children’s genres looking to take advantage of the barren mainstream cinematic wasteland (yes, “Avatar” is out there but it opened mid-December). As such, it’s time for Dwayne “I don’t call myself The Rock in kids films” Johnson to unveil his third family friendly film in a row, “The Tooth Fairy”.

Here, he plays a former NHL hockey player (I’m going to completely ignore how illogical that scenario is) who has been stuck in the minor leagues ever since an injury pushed him out of the big time. He makes a name for himself as the Tooth Fairy, because of the punishing hits he delivers on opponents, and is dating single mother Ashley Judd (lucky son of a biscuit). One night, he tells her young daughter that the magical tooth fairy who sneaks into your room and trades cash for enamel isn’t real (though when you think about it, this idea is REALLY creepy). This transgression against imagination lands him some time served as a tooth fairy (though sadly for adults, not like the kind you’d find in “Darkness Falls”).

To help him learn the ropes, Johnson is assigned a fairy case worker in the form of Stephen Merchant and a quick tutorial on the job by Billy Crystal. Herein lies the comedy and entertainment for adults. Merchant has always been great at delivering sarcasm and wit to roles, which certainly helped the film’s energy and Crystal brings a certain amount of Miracle Max with him to the role that was very much needed in the mostly otherwise lifeless script.

Of course, Fairy Land itself (their term, not mine) is run by none other than Julie Andrews. Choosing her for this part is sort of like asking Morgan Freeman to narrate something. She does exactly what you’d expect and nothing more. If anything, it would have been nice and fun to have someone completely against type run things but hoping to find any semblance of complexity in this is a waste of brain activity (and would have cut into the fun that Billy Crystal has in the film).

The film then unfolds as every other magical kids film does and the credits roll. Along the way, a few clever jokes are tossed in (pretty much all by Merchant and Crystal), I continue to be surprised that there’s still professional hockey in America and the People’s Champion retains his family friendly image. Seeing as this is a kids film, there’s not a lot to expect from it and so I won’t knock its formulaic and simple nature. However, I do think that the section of the film where Johnson’s character ruins his relationships with everyone (so he can later fix everything) was a bit too harsh. It makes the ability to take him back into everyone’s heart a bit harder to swallow and felt far too forced.

While I enjoy Dwayne Johnson doing kids films because he has such a likable personality and willingness to embarrass himself, I’m more happy to see that the next three films The Rock is working on (“The Other Guys”, “Faster”, “City of Angels”) all have some element of action to them and are geared towards adults. If you’ve got kids and liked “The Game Plan”, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting with “The Tooth Fairy” and so I’ll give it a 3 out of 5. It has to be more entertaining to adults than the latest chipmunk sequel (that those films make $200 million domestically saddens me) and avoiding that probably feels like a big hug to your soul.