By Susan JAMES
Actor Dwayne Johnson explores his inner Tinkerbell in “Tooth Fairy,” the new movie from Twentieth Century Fox, directed by Michael Lembeck.The former Scorpion King grows wings instead of pincers on a family friendly journey to the Land of I Believe. Johnson, who has a strong cinematic presence and a light comic touch, plays Derek Thompson, a minor league ice hockey star who once had dreams of glory. A shoulder injury sidelined him early in his career and Derek is now content on a second string team, playing to the crowd and smashing out the teeth of opposition players, thus earning the nickname of ‘the tooth fairy.’ But when Derek’s cynicism during an on-air interview stretches to telling kids to forget about their dreams and face reality, the world of fantasy strikes back.
Derek is taken to the Land of the Tooth Fairies for an uncomfortable interview with Queen Clarisse – oops, sorry, Tooth Fairy CEO Julie Andrews. Sentenced to two weeks of tooth fairy duty, Derek is forced to wear blue satin pajamas and tufty white wings and appear instantly when a tooth needs collecting. Not only is this hard on his love life, he has issues in the locker room. Derek gets mad, sounds off, screws up and finally grows up in the process. Learning what a thousand characters in as many movies before him have learned – that in helping others we help ourselves – Derek morphs from an arrogant jerk to a cool dude with a warm heart. Ashley Judd in an underwritten role plays Derek’s love interest.
Johnson has made a career of challenging his uber-macho screen presence with roles that require him to play against type. And the wrestler formerly known as The Rock in a pink tutu is a sight you won’t soon forget. “Tooth Fairy” is packed with funny moments and an astonishing array of A-list actors. Stephen Merchant, writing partner of comedian Ricky Gervais, plays Derek’s fairy mentor, Tracy. At 6-feet 7-inches, goggle-eyed and rail thin, Merchant brings a welcome British eccentricity to the proceedings and gives the story a needed acerbic edge. Also doing comic turns are Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane as tooth fairy product fence Ziggy and Billy Crystal as fairy Jerry, a riff combining “The Princess Bride’s” Miracle Max with James Bond’s Q.
The filmmakers cleverly cast skating phenom Ryan Sheckler to play skating phenom Mick Donnelly, the same kind of young, gifted, arrogant hotshot that the aging Derek once was. The brutality of the hockey sequences play nicely against the pastel pastry sweetness of Tooth Fairy Land but never go beyond the movie’s PG rating. The ending is no surprise but there are enough funny moments to make it worth the journey – even if in the midst of all those tooth fairies we do keep looking for Santa Claus.
See you at the movies!’