Dwayne Johnson, Julie Andrews, Ashley Judd, Stephen Merchant
Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel, Joshua Sternin, Jeffrey Ventimilia, Randi Mayem Singer
20th Century Fox
"Tooth Fairy," the latest family friendly film to feature Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, is a difficult film to review.
To trash the film for being a mindless, predictable and paint-by-numbers film seems a tad unfair. On the other hand, if you've seen the poster or movie trailer for "Tooth Fairy" with an angel wing-clad Johnson in his hockey attire, then you pretty much know everything you need to know about the film before the film even begins.
"Tooth Fairy" is what it is...a true family friendly film with an easygoing, gentle spirit and enough of a good heart to please most children who've come to love these silly characters that Johnson creates onscreen. Parents? There's not as much for you here, but looking around the auditorium it was clear that, at the very least, the parents were appreciating the fact that their children were appreciating "Tooth Fairy."
In the film, Johnson is a minor-league hockey player assigned the nickname of "Tooth Fairy" due to his gift for knocking out his opponent's teeth. As the film kicks off, he's knocking out yet another opponent's tooth then later casually tells the daughter (Destiny Grace Whitlock) of his girlfriend (Ashley Judd) that there is no tooth fairy and proceeds to steal the cash out from under her pillow.
In the spirit of "A Christmas Carol," Johnson receives a visit from the Department of Dissemination of Disbelief and is promptly sentenced to a stint as a tooth fairy by the department's head (Julie Andrews) and assigned a rather hapless caseworker (Stephen Merchant).
Does this all sound incredibly irrelevant and silly?
This is one of those incredibly simple, very basic, absolutely fundamental films in which a sorta bad guy is made good through a variety of silly circumstances and, in the end, learns valuable life lessons.
There's really nothing else to "Tooth Fairy."
It would be easy to fault Johnson for continuing to make such films, but there's a reason he's making them. These types of films make money, generate good will, make families happy and, in the end, serve as the perfect vehicle for an actor with limited emotional range but solid enough stage presence to sell the range he does have. Johnson isn't brilliant here, but he doesn't have to be. Johnson simply has to show up, be charming and be willing to make light of his macho, tough guy persona.
The supporting cast is fine if, again, not particularly outstanding, though Stephen Merchant is quite delightful as the hapless and semi-incompetent caseworker while Billy Crystal serves up the film's funniest scenes in an unbilled appearance. The stern department head is a role Julie Andrews could play in her sleep, but to her credit she keeps everything energized and enthusiastic. Similarly, the material doesn't begin to take advantage of Ashley Judd's range, but she complements Johnson nicely and turns what should have been a cinematic disaster into a decent Saturday at the movies for the family.
Michael Lembeck seems in touch with the film's inherent campiness, though one almost wishes "Tooth Fairy" possessed some of the innocent charm and goofiness of Jon Favreau's "Elf" with Will Ferrell.
Destined to be widely trashed by your average cynical film critic, this is one film where families, especially those with small children, should ignore the critics and simply give in to the silliness of it all.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic