Tooth Fairy (2010)

I believe that kids deserve good movies, although they get lousy movies as often as the rest of us. The difference is that when a kid sees a lousy movie, it's likely that an adult has paid to see it too. If you are the parent of a child young enough to be visited regularly by the Tooth Fairy, then you are probably aware of Tooth Fairy the movie. If you think watching it will be like pulling teeth, fear not. It's pleasantly enjoyable, and fairy devotee Kid M loved it.

Tooth Fairy stars Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as minor league hockey player Derek Thompson. I know Johnson doesn't go by "The Rock" anymore, but calling a human being "The Rock" is just too much fun. As he often does, Johnson plays a not-so-nice guy in need of comeuppance, redemption and/or a second chance in Tooth Fairy. He played the same sort of guy in The Game Plan, Race to Witch Mountain, and (my personal favorite The Rock movie), The Rundown. What is unusual about Tooth Fairy is that the road to redemption leads through Fairy Land, and involves wings and a tutu.

Thompson is a bone-crushing hockey player who has been nicknamed "The Tooth Fairy" because other players tend to lose their teeth when he's on the ice. He spends a lot of time in the penalty box, and the rest of it sending his opponents to the dentist. He also doesn't believe in fairies, or dreams, or in encouraging kids to reach for the stars. He gets into hot water with his girlfriend Carly (Ashley Judd) when he tries to tell her daughter Tess (Destiny Whitlock) that there's no such thing as the Tooth Fairy. He also gets in trouble with the Tooth Fairy, or rather, with Fairy Land head honcho Lily (Julie Andrews). Thompson is summoned to Fairy Land, sprouts wings and dons a pink tutu, and is sentenced to serve two weeks slipping dollars under little tykes' pillows and retrieving lost teeth.

Apparently there are many tooth fairies, which explains the ability to fly all over the world retrieving all those teeth each and every night. And apparently there are both male and female tooth fairies, and ordinary mortals can be involuntarily drafted into tooth service. Who knew? Thompson is outfitted with the tools of the tooth trade: shrinking paste, cat repellent, invisibility spray, amnesia dust, and so on, all designed to get him out of trouble. He manages to get into plenty of trouble anyway. There's a funny bit of business with Jerry (Billy Crystal), the giddy, smart-alecky Q-like fairy who invents the various Tooth Fairy accoutrements. Also quite funny is Stephen Merchant as Thompson's caseworker Tracy, a gangly, bug-eyed fairy with unfulfilled dreams. Johnson, charismatic as ever, spends a good deal of his time flashing his pearly whites (an extraordinary set of teeth for a hockey player) and getting all wide-eyed with fear, disbelief, and outrage. Thompson does not embrace the fairy lifestyle or the fairy ethic, he refuses to believe in dreams, and he's not very good with kids. He's especially not very good with Carly's son Randy (Chase Ellison), a sullen teen who plays a mean guitar but needs the kind of encouragement that Thompson can't bring himself to dispense. If only the kid needed a few teeth knocked out.

Speaking of which, there's a fair bit of hockey-related violence in Tooth Fairy, although no one is seriously wounded. Thompson gets bumped, bashed, crushed and crashed in his Tooth Fairy duties. And he eventually discovers the power of dreams, and learns that the tooth will set you free. 

Tooth Fairy is silly fun, competently directed by Michael Lembeck and  written by no fewer than five screenwriters, among them Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, who, aside from having the kind of names that just trip off the tongue, wrote City Slickers, which enjoined us all to find our smiles. The message of Tooth Fairy isn't really for the faithful, gap-toothed little believers out there, although they'll find plenty to smile about. Tooth Fairy is for you, the nonbelievers, the scoffers, those who've set aside childish things, o ye of little faith. Believe in the tooth! Clap your hands and let that freak fairy fly! But seriously, the audience for Tooth Fairy is primarily those who still possess deciduous teeth, and their lucky chaperones. It will also appeal to The Rock completists, particularly the ones who want to see him in tights, or diehard Julie Andrews devotees, or Billy Crystal enthusiasts, or perhaps hockey fans. That there's a pretty diverse audience. Is it possible that one individual somewhere is all of the above? Tooth Fairy is definitely for that unique person, but also for ordinary people with teeth.

If you don't believe me, take it from Kid M, who says  "it's very fun to watch" and "kids would love it" and "it's appropriate."