Directed by: Michael Lembeck
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Stephen Merchant, Ashley Judd, Julie Andrews, Billy Crystal, Seth McFarlane
Running Time: 1 hr 40 mins
Release Date: January 22, 2010
PLOT: A hockey player (Johnson) known for knocking teeth out of his opponents’ mouths gets sentenced to being an actual tooth fairy for not believing. Now, he’s got to juggle his new responsibilities while trying to impress his girlfriend and her two kids.
WHO’S IT FOR? Families. If parents have low-expectations they should be fine, otherwise they can easily sit there and quietly make fun of the film while their kids enjoy.
EXPECTATIONS: None. I haven’t enjoyed a film that featured a big muscle man with kids (The Pacifier, The Game Plan) since Arnold Schwarzenegger nailed it in Kindergarten Cop.
Dwayne Johnson as Derek: He’s an arrogant professional hockey player who hands out his autograph when he’s short on cash. He tells kids not to chase their dreams, because his didn’t work out. Wait a minute. Those are two dimensions you’ve just given Johnson to play. Slow down, buddy. Johnson works as a one-note actor. In fact, I think he’d be best on Broadway, because everything is big with him. He’s not laughing … he’s acting like he’s laughing. That plays better on the stage. Plus, why couldn’t he have just been secretly upset about how his life worked out, instead of being the cool guy in the room and being mean or sarcastic to everyone? You’re right, I’m over-thinking it. Bottom line, give Johnson a clearly defined character and he can pull it off.
Stehpen Merchant as Tracy: Sure, Tracy is a girl’s name, but Merchant is all man. All 6’2″, 160 pounds on pale, skinny man. Merchant has his biggest movie role to date and makes the most of it. He’s worked with Ricky Gervais on many projects and has the same ability to extend a joke or squeeze out a quick line.
Ashley Judd as Carly: Whether Judd is wasted, just shows up for a pay check or what, Carly could have been played by anyone. Judd is saddled with a lot of moments where she’s supposed to be confused. That’s the whole thing. Now there will be a group of divorced women with two kids who now will think they have a shot at attracting a professional athlete. That’s more of a stretch than the tooth fairy actually showing up.
Julie Andrews as Lily: She has her moments and I am always happy to see legends like Andrews and Carol Burnett in a film, I just wish someone would use them better. Lily is the fairy leader who is stuck delivering lines to Derek like, “You might just be the worst tooth fairy ever!”
Billy Crystal as ????: I missed Crystal’s character’s name. You know what? Can’t be found. He’s uncredited. Even Fox’s publicity site doesn’t have it listed. Apparently he doesn’t want any connection to this film. Too bad. He’s the best part of the film. Sure he’s only around for five minutes, but as the old fairy who shows Derek the tools (like amnesia dust) he’s really good.
TALKING: Can you smell what this script is cooking? It’s tooth and fairy jokes all night long (except for a quality 15 minutes I talk about below). The tooth hurts. You can’t handle the tooth. I guess these are aimed at adults since kids wouldn’t get the reference. Plus there’s fairy-oke. I have no idea why fairies don’t just call it karaoke. As far as life lessons go … Dreams good, settling bad.
SIGHTS: I’m a little shocked. They got the hockey moments looking good for the most part. There are two quality hockey scenes and normally films like this never get sports correct. The visual jokes rest squarely on the shoulders of Johnson in fairy outfits. It’s a little too hammy to get a laugh. And don’t worry, there’s a montage toward the end.
SOUNDS: “Ya’ll Ready For This” makes its noise heard two too many times. And this has a chance to be the most annoying sound effects and score of the year. Instead of letting jokes or action have their moments, overproduced obvious effects attempt to override everything.
BEST SCENE: Billy Crystal shows off the tricks of the trade to Derek, including shrinking paste. It proves Crystal still has his comedy chops. He even screamed out “Liar” which had me thinking Princess Bride for one split second.
ENDING: Happy schmappy.
QUESTIONS: OK, I’ll be the mean guy in the room … If the tooth fairy is real, in this movie’s world, then are the fairies just going to the houses of kids who don’t get money from their parents? Or do they show up at a house, take the money already under the pillow and then replace it with the exact same amount so no one knows what’s going on? You’re amazed at how much I can actually think about this film, aren’t you? Plus, if you don’t believe, but then the tooth fairies show you they are real … do you really need two weeks to understand what’s going on? One more … you have a wand that can make anything happen, and you use it once for a guitar?
REWATCHABILITY: Again, this is the film on the plane, where the person next to me laughs like crazy. I can only agree to 20 minutes of that laughing.
Something magical happened. After a completely ordinary beginning, Derek gets taken to fairy land, and it’s funny. It’s really funny. Merchant, Andrews and Crystal made me laugh HARD. I couldn’t believe it. It was shocking and in the back on my mind I was actually thinking … funniest movie of the year (in 2010, so far). Those 15 minutes were magical. Of course, after that we’re left with people barking like dogs, Johnson trying to make us laugh, and a kid who can jam on a guitar like Eric Clapton (it was out of place). Seth McFarlane shows up in a nice cameo as a fairy dealer, but otherwise, besides those 15 minutes, you can’t laugh with this movie. You can however, laugh at this movie. So parents, if you’re in need of a film, take the kids and make sure you are sitting next to your spouse, so you can make fun of these fairies. Especially the big one with the muscles.
FINAL SCORE: 4/10