Review: Tooth Fairy

* * * out of four stars

The foundation of “Tooth Fairy” rests on Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s shoulders. Thank god he holds it up. This film is a delightful little kids tale about believing in your dreams. Can it hold up Johnson’s career?

Johnson is at his comedic best as hockey player Derek Thompson, whose powerful face-crushing checks have earned him the name Tooth Fairy. Outside the ice, he’s a class-act jerk, telling kids they’ll never reach their dreams and acting sarcastic to other fans. His girlfriend Carly (Ashley Judd, “Twisted,” “Crossing Over”) is oblivious of this as is her daughter. Her rebellious son has picked up on it and has no interest in Thompson, who has about as much in return.

Carly’s daughter Tess loses a tooth. When Thompson needs more money for poker with the guys and autographed pictures won’t do, Thompson steals the money given to her by the “tooth fairy.” As luck would have it, Tess wakes up before he can replace it and wonders where her cash is. Thompson spills the beans and bluntly tells her there is no tooth fairy. Luckily, mom is there to cover for him and save the day, but the damage may have already been done.

As you may have guessed by now, there is a tooth fairy. Actually, there are many of them. They are all under a lot of stress lately thanks to budget cuts caused by non-believing children. Thompson is summoned by the tooth fairies (he even grows light blue wings) and sentenced to a whopping two weeks of fairy duty, as well as juggling his relationship and failing hockey career.

Comedian Billy Crystal (“City Slickers,” “When Harry Met Sally”) plays the gadget master who gives Thompson everything he needs, including a magic wand that will only work if you believe in magic, “cat away,” shrinking paste, invisible spray and also this handy-dandy amnesia dust which makes whoever inhales it forget the last few seconds. I have some right here actually.

He also gives Thompson some handy-dandy amnesia dust which makes whoever inhales it forget the last few seconds… what is this sparkly stuff I seemed to have spilled all over my desk?

Julie Andrews (“Mary Poppins” …nuff said) plays the fairy godmother and Steven Merchant (“Hot Fuzz”) plays Tracy, a tall and skinny wingless fairy who acts as Thompson’s case worker. These performances are both fine, but would be useless without a strong presence.

That presence is Dwayne Johnson. While it is cringe-inducing to see him in a pink dress, he moves from situation to situation balancing his character from being a tired old hockey player to a cocky has-been celebrity to a befuddled and confused guy with fairy wings and to a guy whose imagination is coming back to him. Johnson handles all of these roles with determination and well-crafted skill and gives a very good comedic performance, proving that he is a very capable actor.

Which is why it’s time to stop with the kid movies. His past three starring roles, “The Game Plan,” “Race to Witch Mountain,” and “Planet 51” have all done very well in the box office. Great. I’m glad the kids are pleased. But this film comes centimeters away from him committing career suicide. Four children’s films in a row, with the comedy flop “Get Smart” back there as well, might kill his acting career and will probably do it soon. This is a good movie. I liked it. But as a fan of Johnson’s I must say that I don’t want to see him in this kind of movie time and again.

Dwayne Johnson proved in “Gridiron Gang” he has what it takes to be in a drama. He proved in “The Rundown” and “Walking Tall” that he can definitely do action. Doing two kid films after that sounds about right. Four is beyond pushing it. Dwayne, it’s time to grow up.

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