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dir Michael Lembeck
prd Jason Blum, Mark Ciardi, Gordon Gray
scr Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel, Joshua Sternin, Jeffrey Ventimilia, Randi Mayem Singer
with Dwayne Johnson, Ashley Judd, Julie Andrews, Stephen Merchant, Billy Crystal, Ryan Sheckler, Chase Ellison, Destiny Grace Whitlock, Seth MacFarlane, Brandon T Jackson, Josh Emerson, Steve Bewley
release US 22.Jan.10, UK 28.May.10
09/US Fox 1h41
You can't handle the tooth: Johnson and Merchant
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
This comedy is essentially a goofy premise with some nutty dialog and set pieces pasted onto it. But it's watchably entertaining, even though the filmmakers miss almost every opportunity for sublime absurdity.
Hockey star Derek (Johnson) is tired of being treated like a has-been, and is trying to prove he still deserves the nickname "Tooth Fairy", because he knocks his opponents' teeth out. But while Derek tries to settle down with girlfriend Carly (Judd) and her kids (Ellison and Whitlock), hot upstart Mick (Sheckler) is stealing the spotlight. Then Derek finds out he has to fill in for the real Tooth Fairy for two weeks, overseen by fairy godmother Lily (Andrews) and a caseworker (Merchant) with wing envy.
Clearly, the project was pitched as a way to get The Rock into a pink tutu and tights. And yes, that's actually quite funny. The film has a sunny, silly tone that plays adeptly with Johnson's hulking charm. And it's intriguing to see him playing a guy who's actually a bit of a jerk. The problem is that the script is almost painfully juvenile, which might be hilarious for audience members under about 6, but it's just eye-rollingly corny for the rest of us.
That said, Johnson shows his usual dedication to the role, merrily wearing silly costumes, complete with wings, and indulging in all manner of zany slapstick plus lots of strained comedy dialog with Merchant. Frankly, with this high a concept, the script pretty much wrote itself. Indeed, the plot is painfully simplistic, as Derek bonds with Carly's teen son while learning a bit of humility in his role as a tooth fairy. It only livens up for the odd sharp gag.
Along the way, the film falls into a weirdly joyless rut, as Derek has to become a truly nasty piece of work and reach rock bottom before the sentimentality can kick in. And things do get relatively fun again for the requisite happy finale. But most interesting is that, beyond the heavy-handed moral (take hold of your life/be sensitive to others), the film reveals high-achievers for the idiots they usually are.
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© 2010 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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