TIM LINCE: The Tooth Fairy

Starring Dwayne Johnson (The Rock), Stephen Merchant and Ashley Judd. Directed by Michael Lembeck. Released May 28 2010. Certificate PG. Genre – Comedy.

My thoughts before

THE thought of seeing Dwayne Johnson, better known to millions of wrestling fanatics as The Rock, donned in a dress and playing the tooth fairy… there’s some things in life I thought I’d purposely avoid.

This apparently isn’t one of them, even going to the injustice of paying to see it.

Anyway, the former wrestler has indeed stooped to this level and it’s with contempt I’m watching it. The things people do to appear on the big screen!

I’m hoping the film lends some credibility thanks to the appearance of the slightly more respected Ashley Judd and the very well respected Stephen Merchant (normally found dwarfing Ricky Gervais, as they co-wrote The Office and Extras together and he’s about 9ft tall).

So my expectations aren’t hugely high but hey – it may be a good one for the kids, right?

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IT’S strange when a film leaves out key cast members.

Sometimes it’s understandable, like in the brilliant David Fincher thriller Se7en, where the cast member appears as some kind of twist.

But I find it strange the makers of The Tooth Fairy haven’t been shouting from the rooftops that they managed to string along Julie Andrews as a pretty major role!

I’ve not seen her on cinema screens for a long time now (not sure if… I ever have) but it was a smile moment when she appeared, and she added a certain charm and respect to the whole proceedings.

Couple that with a potential comic star making performance from Stephen Merchant and you have a surprisingly fun movie that’s truly for the whole family – a film that, on paper, looks like it could have been an embarrassment.

I admit I went in with a frame of mind where I was certain this would be a failure. An ex-wrestler donning a tutu to play the tooth fairy – come on!

But the film had that welcome self-awareness about it that never took itself too seriously and you could tell all cast and crew were having a really good time putting this thing on screen.

It follows an ice hockey player (obviously played by Dwayne Johnson) famed for his contacts in the sport that lead to many player’s teeth leaving their mouth of origin. This leads to the catchy nickname of, you guessed it, ‘the tooth fairy’.

Away from the rink, he also has a growing relationship with a pretty woman and her two children (one annoying young girl, another annoying emo teen).

One night, when the mother is away, he sneakily steals the money from under the young girl’s pillow to pay for a gambling night and, after the girl is left upset, he has the cheek to deny the tooth fairy.

The obvious punishment for this is a summons to the, um, world of fairies (or something) where he is sentenced to be a tooth fairy for two weeks (lenient!).

Many funny escapades entail, and it’d be a shame to ruin them – but they’re pretty much what you’d expect.

You see, The Tooth Fairy breaks no new ground. It retreads the footsteps of other great family movies like The Indian In The Cupboard, The Grinch> and Small Soldiers in that it has just enough for both adults and kids alike to please both parties without patronising the other.

For instance, Stephen Merchant’s character (Tracey, the helper assigned to Johnson’s confused protagonist) has some great one-liners for the adults and also has a face, a smile, a look that will make any person under 13 laugh. This is why he’s perfect for future roles like this – comic fodder for both age groups.

Dwayne Johnson is slightly embarrassing at times, especially in the more sentimental moments, but I sensed that he was having just as much fun as everyone else. His awesome smile (you can’t deny it) doesn’t really work in anything above a 12 rating but is right in place here.

Julie Andrews adds a much needed touch of class, and the final scene involving her and the aforementioned Johnson and Merchant was a fun watch that finally brought her fittingly into a new generation of kids.

The Tooth Fairy isn’t brilliant, far from it, but as far as family films go it isn’t half bad.

The poster and trailer don’t sell the movie at all and any parent will probably dread the thought of going.

But it has nice positives messages to the kids, a few decent set-pieces and jokes for the adults and if you look past the cheesiness of it all then it’s quite fun.

And it has lots of puns. And I love puns. They had me at “you can’t handle the tooth!”