Dwayne Johnson has certainly muscled out an acting career for himself, hasn’t he? Pro wrestling notwithstanding, the man formerly known as “The Rock” has been an action hero, he has shown excellent comedic chops, and now he’s nudging his way into the family film market. You know what? He’s doing a good job. The material he’s given isn’t always the greatest, but Johnson on screen is likable and isn’t afraid to make a fool of himself if it means bettering the movie. Moreover, he genuinely seems to be having a good time whenever he’s on camera. What this does is help the audience have a good time with him. Such is the case with his newest DVD, Tooth Fairy, a fantasy film from Walden Media and 20th Century Fox that’s more than entertaining, even if it hits most of the same notes of every family film out there.
Johnson plays Derek Thompson, a minor league hockey player past his prime. Instead of being a force on the ice, he’s just an enforcer, sent into games to knock out opposing players. He’s earned the nickname “The Tooth Fairy” thanks to his habit of hitting his opponents so hard they end up missing teeth. Derek eats up the attention, even though he’s seen more as a novelty than an integral part of the hockey team. This point is driven home when a hotshot young player arrives and Derek is relegated to protecting the kid on the ice so he doesn’t get hurt. The tooth fairy is now the babysitter
Thanks to Johnson’s natural charm as a performer, Derek comes across as good-natured, even though he’s pretty cynical. For example, when kids tell him they want to grow up to play hockey be just like him, Derek doesn’t encourage them. Instead, he tells them the long odds they’re against and that they should choose something else to do with their lives. Someone who is able to look past his faults is Carly, a single mom that he’s been dating. Ashley Judd, who once starred in movies but now seems relegated to supporting roles, plays Carly. She brings a lot of warmth and definitely the right amount of strength and believability to her part. Carly has two children, six year old Tess (Destiny Whitlock) and teenager, Randy (Chase Ellison), a shy boy who has channeled his feelings into becoming an excellent guitar player.
One night, Derek babysits Carly’s kids and has his hockey buddies over for some poker. Low on cash, he sneaks into Tess’s room and swipes the money Carly left under her daughter’s pillow after losing a tooth. Later on, Tess wakes up and realizes that her tooth is gone and there is no money. Derek nearly reveals to Tess that there is no tooth fairy. Luckily, Carly stops him by finding a dollar on the floor. Disaster averted. Pissed, Carly sends Derek home. That night he’s summoned to the realm of the tooth fairies where he must make amends for being a “dream crusher.”
Dressed in a pink tutu, with magic wings sprouting out of his back, Derek stands before head fairy, Lily, and is told he must serve as tooth fairy for two weeks. Lily is played by the legendary Julie Andrews, a woman who makes anything she’s involved with 100% classier. With her warmth and grace, she commands the screen; it’s always a pleasure watching her perform. To Johnson’s credit, he holds his own with the great Andrews.
Derek is given a caseworker named Tracy, played by British actor Stephen Merchant. These two butt heads almost immediately so you know they’re going to become best buds by the end of the movie. Derek is given a bag full of tricks by a spacey old fairy named Jerry. Billy Crystal, reprising his Miracle Max shtick from The Princess Bride, portrays Jerri. I’ve grown weary of Crystal over the years, but in small doses he can still liven up a dull scene.
The film proceeds to follow Derek on his tooth fairy mishaps missions, avoiding cats, trying not to get caught. Gradually he comes to appreciate that dreams are important and he becomes friends with all of the fairies.
Meanwhile, Derek develops a relationship with Randy, at Carly’s bequest. At first Randy wants nothing to do with his mother’s latest boyfriend. But the two eventually bond over music. Derek jams on the drums, accompanying Randy and helping him gain the confidence he needs to perform at his school’s talent contest. Of course, there are some hiccups along the way and Derek has to redeem himself in everyone’s eyes. Like I said, the plotting is fairly predictable.
However, even though you can predict what‘s going to happen next, that doesn’t make Tooth Fairy a bad film. For family entertainment, it has the right amount of laughs and drama to appease parents and kids alike. As I said, Johnson is certainly a charismatic star and he really sells the film with performance. If you’re sitting down for movie night, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much fun you’ll have with Tooth Fairy.
The DVD has some nice bonus features. Besides an extended, karaoke scene between Johnson and Merchant (the highlight for me), there is also a “fairy workout” which is a nifty little exercise feature on the DVD. I hadn’t seen that before.