Like pulling teeth

PG * 101 mins * 28 May 2010
Michael Lembeck
Dwayne Johnson, Ashley Judd, Stephen Merchant

On a list of things likely to happen in a Hollywood movie, the sight of Stephen Merchant exchanging banter with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is not high up there. That Johnson happens to be wearing a pink tutu and a pair of wings tosses this film solidly into the realm of “WTF?”, and the fact that, somehow, The Rock manages to retain the merest smidge of dignity is a miracle worthy of the one with the loaves and the fishes.

Only a smidge, mind. Johnson’s fairly amusing as Derek, an ice hockey player known as The Tooth Fairy, due to his habit of knocking opponents’ teeth out. He’s struggling to control his ego, his failing career and the two children belonging to his girlfriend, but when he almost tells one of them that the Tooth Fairy doesn’t exist he’s whisked up to Fairyland and given tooth-collecting duties alongside handler Tracy (Merchant) to teach him a lesson. The plot’s a pile of syrupy drivel accompanied by a plonky soundtrack to cue in when you’re supposed to laugh or cry, and Derek’s molar-grabbing adventures are distressingly predictable (he even shrinks down to six inches and gets chased by a cat – for shame!).

On the plus side, the frenetic ice hockey scenes are great – nothing like exposing young viewers to one of the world’s most violent sports and making it look like it doesn’t hurt – and a cameo by Billy Crystal as a Q-type figure providing Johnson with gadgets is a hoot. Mostly it’s the chit-chat between Merchant and his winged companion that works best, though, with Merchant apparently loving every minute.

Still, in the end this is family-friendly schmaltz-by-numbers; there are better films to sink your teeth into.

Jayne Nelson