Tooth Fairy

By: Addison Wylie

Sometimes, it appears a movie is dead on arrival. I always go in to a movie with an open mind but when the plot sounds dopey and the advertising campaign for it is bashing me over the head and the trailers are tedious, I tend to get worried. And some movies end up being trash because of all of this. The movie is tiresome, the actors behind it seem bored and are trying to make the best out of the terrible material they’ve been given, and the direction is very lethargic. However, sometimes, when there’s enough charisma behind a project, a once dreaded film could actually end up surprising people. Here, we have Tooth Fairy; the most recent entry into Dwayne Johnson’s, also known as retired wrestler The Rock, family friendly filmography. A once intimidating wrestler/actor is now churning out family film after family film. Here, it seemed as if he was at the lowest point of his career. Trailers for Tooth Fairy featured Johnson jaunting around in a tutu, calling himself the next Tooth Fairy, and chewing up scenery as if its the last scenery on earth. Not only did Johnson seem like he was in actor peril, but it also seemed as if the studio was wanting to ride off of the success of The Santa Clause; a movie that was released in 1994. A once big action star and a tiresome retread of a plot would seem to be a recipe for disaster. However, this was one of those times where there was effective charisma present and as the film progressed, I found myself more open to the idea that a film like this could work and, overall, I would go as far as to say that Tooth Fairy turns out to be a solid, inventive family film.

Dwayne Johnson is Derek ‘The Tooth Fairy’ Thompson; a relentless Hockey Player known for checking people so hard, that they lose teeth. Derek is also a very shallow, uninspired person. He doesn’t believe silly things like dreams coming true or that people actually meet their goals. This is an obstacle in his current relationship to his girlfriend Carly, played by Ashley Judd. Carly has two children and when the youngest, Tess, loses a tooth, Tess knows exactly what to do with it. However, due to a money mishap where Derek borrows the money under her pillow, Tess is shaken up when she finds that her tooth is gone and she hasn’t gotten anything in return. In order to fix things, Derek tries to tell her the unfortunate truth behind the Tooth Fairy but Carly stalls him. Carly chastises him and sends him home with his tail between his legs. That night, when Derek is fast asleep, he is summoned to ToothFairy Land by The Department of Dissemination of Disbelief. Due to his decisions to fill Tess’s head with disbelief, the headmistress Lily, played by Julie Andrews, orders Derek to become a Tooth Fairy for two weeks. Here, he will have to follow the rules and regulations that all Tooth Fairies follow and he must commit to this service or else he will have more time added on to his sentence. Now, Derek must be a normal individual by day but once night falls and children start to fall asleep, Derek will become the Tooth Fairy and the film follows him as he tries to work out this new balance.
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The screenplay for this film has been written by five people. Five. People. It floors me to think this film, that is not exactly deep by any means, has been written by five people. However, this script has been bouncing around Hollywood for quite sometime even going as far back as Schwarzenegger playing the part of Derek when Arnold was in his heydays. My guess is that while years trucked by and no one would film the script, people made adjustments to it in order for the material to stay fresh. For example, there’s a scene where there are Facebook and online blog references and Derek gets all his Tooth Fairy notifications via text. There may have been added references to modern day technology but the script does feel a little stale. There are puns a plenty during the first few scenes of the movie. Starting from “you can’t handle the tooth” and et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. There are even wing puns including a quip where they’ve tied in the word “wing” with philosopher Charles Darwin’s name. All these puns are eye rollers and they don’t work. A lot of the jokes don’t take off as well as they should. Even kids would be rolling their eyes at Derek putting french fries in his teeth mocking vampire fangs. However, lame jokes aside, once the film gets its footing, the story starts to build and the script gets very inventive. Once Derek becomes a Tooth Fairy, he obtains these new gadgets that will make sneaking into homes easier. In this scene where Jerry, played well by Billy Crystal, provides Derek with his new toys, the scene runs reminiscent of a James Bond film and stands out as one of the more memorable scenes. It helps that the performances from Johnson and Crystal feel natural and fun where it feels as their straying from the script and ripping on one another. As the film continues even more, a once tame kiddie flick turns into a somewhat super hero movie for adolescents. It’s a really smooth transition from one mood to the next and I admire that about the film. Suddenly, more jokes and more physical comedy become humorous and the movie becomes a light enjoyable ride. It’s just too bad that the film decides to go down the avenue of cheap puns at times.

What makes this movie work the most though is how much personality Johnson carries with him throughout the picture. Some actors, doing the film for a paycheck, would just slug along and not do anything with the role given to them. Johnson, however, realizes how ridiculous and outlandish the plot is and realizes who the film is targeted for and with all that in mind, he has a lot of fun with it. He delivers each line with confidence, no matter how silly the lines get, and overall he isn’t afraid of making himself out to be a buffoon. And it works. Unlike other disappointing family films I’ve seen this year (I’m looking at you Spy Next Door), Johnson and the other cast members are having an ultimate ball and not caring what any critic or naysayer might say. As long as the target audience is enjoying it, it’s all good. Also, by providing those subtle nods to superhero cliches, the high energy can’t help but rub off on the older audience too. With all this said, it’s a little tough to get into the attitude of the picture. The film instantly starts out with Dwayne, as stated before, chewing up scenery like it’s nobody’s business. He’s cackling away with huge grin on his face, his mannerisms are extremely hammy, and it makes the audience think of his dignity or what Dwayne has left of it. There’s also Derek’s fairy case-worker named Tracy, played by Stephen Merchant, who is very exaggerated throughout the film so much that he begins to stand out as being an annoying distraction. However, once the audience realizes what’s going on and is let in on the joke, so to say, the film is pain-free and delectable. If it wasn’t for the cast’s enchanting attitudes, Tooth Fairy could’ve fallen into a whole other world.

Dare I say it, Tooth Fairy surprised me. I’m glad to see movies like Tooth Fairy that are filled with enough charisma to take me out of a grumpy mood and plant a smile on my face. You know that feeling when you were little and you tried to act upset at your Grandpa or Mom, however when they tried to make you laugh, a grin would be growing behind your pout. That’s exactly what this movie does. On the whole, Tooth Fairy isn’t great but it sure isn’t terrible. It is, however, a charming film that I would feel comfortable recommending to a budding family.

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