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Tooth Fairy
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by Peter Sobczynski

"More Painful Than A Trip To See Dr. Szell"
1 stars

As it turns out, “Tooth Fairy” is not another remake of “Red Dragon” featuring Dwayne Johnson as the obsessed federal agent, Billy Crystal as the maniacal serial killer, Ashley Judd as the blind chick and Julie Andrews as Hannibal Lecter. That is a shame because I can almost guarantee that such a film would have been far more entertaining than the astonishingly witless, heartless and brainless spectacle currently detonating at a multiplex near you. Even though we are only about three weeks into both the new year and the new decade, I can almost guarantee that when the lists of the worst films of those respective periods are drawn up, this disaster will have a place of prominence on both. I realize that is a bit of a bold statement but it is one that I am willing to stand by because this is a craptacular for the ages--a work so screeching awful and irritating that it almost makes “Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” seem palatable by comparison.

Derek Thompson (Johnson) is a former hockey star now reduced to running out the final days of his career on a minor-league team as a goon whose primary objective is to take opponents out of the game via body checks hard enough to send their bicuspids flying into the audience, a tactic that has earned him the nickname “The Tooth Fairy.” Off the rink, he enjoys crushing the dreams and aspirations of any little child whose comes across his path--when a little autograph seeker says that he wants to be a hockey player when he grows up, Derek explains in excruciating detail why that will never happen--but when he dares to suggest to adorable moppet Tess (Destiny Whitlock), the youngest child of girlfriend Carly (Ashley Judd), he has simply gone too far and he is forcibly summoned to Fairy Land and informed by the head fairy (Julie Andrews) that he is to assume the role of Tooth Fairy for a week to pay for his sins. After learning the ropes from his fairy handler (Stephen Merchant), Derek is sent out into the world to collect discarded dentata, usually at the most inopportune time imaginable, and while he is an epic fail at first, he gradually gets the hang of it and winds up learning to become a better person as a result--he becomes more of a team player on the rink and even encourages Carly‘s other kid, sullen twerp Randy (Chase Ellison) to embrace his dreams of playing guitar in the junior high talent show. Of course, the moment that the script require him to do so, he forgets all of this and begins acting like a jerk again--the down side is that this drives Carly and the kids away from him but the up side is that it allows him to suddenly remember everything that he forgot just in time for the allegedly triumphant finale.

The fundamental problem with “Tooth Fairy” is that while it has what sounds like an irresistible premise for a family comedy, it is the kind of premise that can’t really sustain much more than a poster or a 30-second commercial. Face it, the mythology of the tooth fairy is one that is somewhat limited and once the initial gimmick of someone with a tough guy persona prancing around in tights and wings has worn off, there really isn’t anywhere for the story to go. In a perfect world, the platoon of screenwriters employed here would have accepted that sad fact early on in the writing process and just abandoned the whole thing as one of those seemingly foolproof ideas that turns out to be anything but. Instead, they seem to have decided that if they couldn’t come up with one decent plot that could sustain a full-length narrative, they could at least jam it up with enough unnecessary subplots to stretch it out to an acceptable length. As a result, we have a film that is ostensibly about an ordinary guy charged with becoming a tooth fairy that is now cluttered with pointless diversions about the budget troubles in Fairy Land, Derek’s dream of reestablishing himself as a real hockey player, his conflicts with a young hotshot teammate, the status of his relationship with Carly and whether her son will take that big chance and appear in the junior-high talent show. There is not a single member of the target audience for this film--which is presumably limited to those still in possession of the majority of their baby teeth--who will find any of this stuff remotely interesting and since they have been handled in such a flat and sitcomish manner by director Michael Lembeck (the auteur of the two “Santa Clause“ sequels), it is unlikely that parents or older siblings roped into attending will care about them either. What is especially annoying is that the film wastes so much time and energy on this stuff but at the same time, it utterly ignores one question that could have inspired something genuinely amusing--what is it that the tooth fairy conglomerate actually does with all the teeth that they collect?

Adding to the grisliness of “Tooth Fairy” is the grim experience of seeing good actors trying and failing to make something out of the decidedly substandard material that they are working with. Johnson is game enough, I suppose, but the role doesn’t give him anything to do other than stand around in a funny outfit and the decision to make his character a self-absorbed boor means that his chief asset as an actor--his intense likeability--is unfortunately sidelined. As for Ashley Judd, words cannot beginning to describe how depressing it is to witness an actress as talented as her going through the motions in such a thinly written role, especially after the one-two punch of “Bug” and “Come Every Morning” that suggested a renewed commitment to acting after a string of increasingly formulaic thrillers. Billy Crystal pops up as the Fairy World equivalent of Q in one scene that is a blatant retread of his bit in “The Princess Bride” and which will have most people wishing that they were spending their time watching that film again instead of this one. Seth McFarlane also briefly appears as a black-market fairy dust dealer in a turn that should prove once and for all that as a performer, he is better heard and not seen and even then, not so much.

The only cast member who comes away from this film without completely embarrassing herself is the inimitable Julie Andrews as the chief fairy. Granted, it won’t go down as one of her great performances and there is nothing here that she didn’t do better in the infinitely more entertaining “Princess Diaries” movies. However, there are very few actresses out there capable of making a grand entrance by floating into a room, delivering sage life lessons to The Rock, eventually receive a big bear hug from him in return and appearing in a scene opposite a kibitzing Billy Crystal--all while wearing a pair of wings, mind you--and still walk away with a shred of personal dignity and if this film does nothing else, and I assure you it doesn’t, she proves that she is one of them. If the rest of “Tooth Fairy” is one long and painful comedic cavity, she serves as a dab of Benzocaine that serves to briefly take the agony away.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=18293&reviewer=389
originally posted: 01/22/10 00:00:00
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User Comments

12/20/11 jcar a guilty pleasure family comedy with rock, kind of corny but still has laughs. 3 stars
5/13/10 DK Quite liked Stephen Merchant, but everything else stinks. 1 stars
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  22-Jan-2010 (PG)
  DVD: 04-May-2010


  DVD: 04-May-2010

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