Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Brawny Dwayne 'the Rock' Johnson looks hilarious decked out in a woman's pink tutu with a feathery pair of Tinker Bell fairy wings. The former WWE wrestler plays a grumpy, self-centered, minor-league hockey player who shatters the dreams of children as casually and decisively as he knocks the teeth out of his opponents on the ice. Never stop believing in your dreams qualifies as the theme of this incredibly vibrant, clever PG-rated comedy for kids. Indeed, the public has
bestowed on him the nickname 'the Tooth Fairy' because teeth fly when Derek Thompson slams into an adversary. Our hero goes too far when he informs a little girl in no uncertain terms that the Tooth Fairy is nothing but a figment of her imagination. Consequently, our protagonist wakes up the next day to find a summons from the Department of Dissemination of Disbelief under his pillow. This wonderfully frivolous
but wholesomely entertaining 106-minute, supernatural fluff never squanders a second, and the Rock is at his charismatic best. Although the producers have surrounded him with a worthwhile cast, "The Tooth Fairy" (**** out of ****) belongs to the Rock and his wattage burns up the screen. Picking up teeth from sleepy urchins proves more challenging than Derek had imagined.

Derek Thompson (Dwayne Johnson of "Race to Witch Mountain") blew his shoulder out playing pro hockey and wound up in the minor leagues skating with the Lansing, Michigan, Ice Wolves. Despite being in top physical condition, Derek is getting a little long in the tooth. Meaning, he has settled into a comfortable niche and is taking it too easy. He loves to crush the dreams of youngsters, largely because he
has sacrificed his own dream about serious hockey career. He has taken the easy way out and converted himself into a freak sideshow attraction. When his young fans ask him about their chances of becoming a sports sensation, he deflates their dreams and suggests they lower their expectations so they won't feel bad with the inevitable happens. While this makes Derek appear callous, the veteran hockey star reflects
his way of dealing with his own predicament. He hasn't scored a goal in nine years, and he hasn't tried because he has sold out to become a clown.

When he isn't knocking out teeth, Derek is dating Carly (Ashley Judd of
"High Crimes"). She has two kids, Tess (adorable newcomer Destiny
Whitlock), her pre-school daughter and Randy (Chase Ellison of
"Wristcutters: A Love Story"), her junior high son. One evening Carly
entrusts Tess to Derek's care. Derek and his teammates are playing
poker. Derek comes up short on cash and steals the money under Tess'
pillow, left there for her tooth by the Tony Fairy. Tess, who has
rhapsodized about the tooth fairy, awakens and cannot find her money.
Derek assures her that the tooth fairy doesn't exist. Carly pretends to
find the missing cash, gives it to a jubilant Tess and glowers at
Derek. The next thing Derek knows is he is in Tooth Fairy Kingdom in
front of the Tooth Fairy Godmother, Lily (Julie Andrews of "The Sound
of Music"), who sentences him to two weeks of retrieving teeth. In
other words, at some inopportune time when he is play hockey, Derek
receives a summons to fetch teeth. Sulking, Derek sets about paying the
penalty for eroding the dreams of youth and finds himself in several
adventures. Although he has wings, Derek doesn't fly because he has no
confidence in himself. Complicating matters are Carly and company. Carly
wants Derek to bond with Randy who suffers from a severe inferiority
complex. Initially, Derek handles this situation well. He buys Randy a
brand-new electric guitar and he jams with Randy on his drums in
preparation for a junior high talent contest. About that time, the Ice
Wolves pick up a hotshot new player, Mick Donnelly (Ryan Sheckler of
"Grind"), who won't being staying long because he likes to score goals
and scores them often. The Ice Wolves coach assigns Derek to watch out
for Mick.

Meantime, Derek has to learn the ropes about being a Tooth Fairy. Lilly
assigns a tall, willowy fairy without wings, Tracy (6-foot-7-inch
British comedian Stephen Merchant of "The Office" TV show), to serve as
his caseworker. Derek reports to Jerry (Billy Crystal of "Mr. Saturday
Night") an elderly, white-haired pixie who supplies him with a variety
of items essential in his line of work. He carries items that are
reminiscent of "Men-In-Black." Among these items are shrinking paste,
amnesia dust and invisibility spray. The shrinking paste enables him to
literally shrink himself down so he can escape, except when he
encounters a giant cat. When he enters a house or apartment, he can
sprinkle amnesia dust of the occupants and they will never remember his
visit, and finally he has an aerosol can of invisibility spray that he
can cover himself with so he cannot be seen. Predictably, Derek winds
up changing his ways and learning important lessons about life that he
has shied away from, like taking the shot to score.

"The Tooth Fairy" is as consistently hilarious as it is inspirational.
Dwayne Johnson and Stephen Merchant make a fantastic twosome with
Merchant forever beaming at the disgruntled sports star. "Connie and
Carla" director Michael Lembeck and a quintet of scenarists, among them
Babaloo Mandel and Lowell Ganz of "City Slickers," Joshua Sternin and
Jeffrey Ventimilia of "Surviving Christmas," and Randi Mayem Singer of
"Mrs. Doubtfire" have conjured up an exhilarating little comedy that is
bolstered by a top-notch supporting cast, including Ashley Judd, Julie
Andrews, Billy Crystal, and Stephen Merchant. The verbal humor is far
above average, too, with clever witticisms. This warm, fuzzy,
predictable, fish-out-of-water epic will appeal to adults, too, with
several genuinely side-splitting laughs.

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