Remember Judd Apatow’s 2009 project, Funny People? While a lousy and flat film, it at one stage cleverly poked fun at actors who have long renounced their dignity for the sake of a paycheck. Tooth Fairy is exactly the type of noxious family entertainment parodied in Apatow’s flick. It mixes a few recognizable faces with a nauseating amount of schmaltz, a one-joke premise, and pedestrian filmmaking, resulting in an excruciating flick which is so unbelievably cheesy that one could mistake it for a cheese emporium. Added to this, its target audience appears to be strangely specific — those in the first grade. Second graders are far too old for this tosh, and would easily see through the shitty script. Anyone younger is just too young, as the intricacies of fairy politics would be too complex for their little minds. First graders will enjoy this, however. I just hope they keep it away from the rest of us.
Former WWE Wrestler Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson displayed at least some charisma in his action hero roles in the past, but his decision to pursue family-friendly entertainment has only dented the star’s once-promising career. Johnson’s character here, Derek Thompson, is a hockey player with a fierce reputation, which has earned him the nickname “Tooth Fairy” due to his ability to smash the holy hell out of anyone on the ice. He’s also a loudmouth cynic whose dreams were crushed by injury. One night, Derek explains to his girlfriend’s daughter (Whitlock) that the Tooth Fairy doesn’t exist, which absolutely horrifies his girlfriend Carly (Judd). As a consequence, Derek is summoned to the land of fairies for the crime of disbelief, and is forced to serve as an actual tooth fairy for a couple of weeks.
The screenplay (credited to a whopping five writers) peddles the same tiresome themes that all family comedies are concerned about these days, and is structured like every other family flick of the past decade. At first Derek is mean, but he learns lessons, rekindles his passion for life, bonds with his girlfriend’s son (who, of course, initially resents Derek), and in the process gets caught up in slapstick shenanigans. Tooth Fairy follows this tedious road map without fail, hitting comedic beats any intelligent person can predict a mile away. As a matter of fact, the film revisits the mythology of the Tooth Fairy in a fashion that mixes Fred Claus, Elf and The Santa Clause, in which a non-believer of a children’s fantasy learns that said fantasy is in fact real. He also finds out the fantasy is a funded operation, and lack of believers is threatening the future. Why couldn’t the movie have mirrored Bad Santa instead? At least that would’ve been funny . . . imagine Derek walking into a child’s room, and telling the kid, “Give me your fucking tooth, you little brat. I’ve had too much to drink and I’m in a bad fucking mood”. Hey, that’s funnier than anything in the actual movie.
Every single inch of Tooth Fairy is unbelievably formulaic, to the extent that watching it becomes a process of waiting for the obvious set-ups to inevitably play out. For instance, Derek is told he will be handed a Tooth Fairy assignment at any random time, and, to force him to do it, his wings will sprout out and his clothes will be replaced with a fairy outfit. Thus, when Derek is getting intimate with Carly, WA-HEY — Derek is paged and an assignment is handed down, necessitating an awkward escape. During an important hockey match, WA-HEY — Derek has to leave on an assignment, hence another awkward exit. Anyone with half a brain will foresee such things happening. Director Lembeck is a terrible filmmaker, and was unable to imbue neither the fantasy world nor his routine shot construction with any flair or professionalism. Considering the $48 million budget, the ugly-looking film is very disappointing indeed; lacking energy and visual audacity. These things are truly irksome, but not as groan-inducing as the broad humor. Despite the five credited writers, Tooth Fairy hasn’t got a single clever comic beat in its body.
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson visibly struggles to retain his charisma here, resulting in a tragically flat performance. Stephen Merchant (whose work is decent) and the uncredited Billy Crystal are the only good things within Tooth Fairy. Crystal’s one-scene cameo as a fairy inventor provides the film’s only remotely amusing moments, and merely exists to highlight how fucking awful the rest of the movie is. Rubbing salt in the wound is Julie Andrews who’s woeful as the magisterial head of the fairies, and Ashley Judd who’s terrible as Derek’s confused girlfriend. Johnson and Judd have the coldest and most contrived chemistry of recent memory.
Back in the 1990s, muscular action star Arnold Schwarzenegger put his career in danger by starring in awful family films such as Jingle All the Way. The difference between Arnie and The Rock, however, is that Schwarzenegger earned his family film slot by first starring in a number of awesome action films. Johnson, like Vin Diesel, too quickly ditched the action hero career in favor of kiddie movies before featuring in any awesome action flicks. Forgettable from the very minute it begins, and played without even a hint of such concepts as wit and originality, Tooth Fairy only finds time to feed the public’s appetite for watching brawny, self-serious men wearing pink tutus, making animal noises and using shiny objects. This movie is awful . . . and that’s the tooth!