Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Video review: "Tooth Fairy"

Everything about "Tooth Fairy" exclaims what it is: Formulaic pap for young audiences and their larger, grudging companions.

And yet I couldn't bring myself to hate it.

Mostly I think that's due to Dwayne Johnson. He's such an immensely likable presence, we just like spending time with him, even in down-market material like this. Johnson's also developed a pretty sharp sense of comic timing, which is why some of the little moments in between the scripted jokes tend to be some of the best ones.

He plays Derek Thompson, a has-been pro hockey player toiling as a goon in the minor leagues. Although a decent guy, he's bitter about his fate, and has the unfortunate knack of passing this on to his fans. "Lower your expectations," he advises one 8-year-old looking for a role model.

For his trespasses against faith, he's assigned two weeks duty as a tooth fairy. Not only are they real, there's an entire society of fairies. They even have a crusty leader (Julie Andrews), a Q-like outfitter of nifty devices like amnesia dust and invisibility spray (Billy Crystal), and Tracy, Derek's wingless supervisor-cum-nemesis (a terrific Stephen Merchant).

Mild rumpuses and life-lesson moments are the order of the day -- the latter mostly having to do with Derek's girlfriend (Ashley Judd) and her two kids.

"Tooth Fairy" is trite, derivative and rather dumb, but has enough sweetness to justify a rental.

Extras are just so-so for the DVD version, but improve greatly upon upgrading to Blu-ray.

The DVD has a standard making-of doc, plus two interesting featurettes, both aimed squarely at kids. There's a "Fairy-oke" sing-off between Derek and Tracy, fleshing out a throwaway joke made during the movie. And there's "Train To Be a Tooth Fairy," which turns out to be an exercise video for tykes.

On top of these, the Blu-ray comes with a gag reel, a digital copy and deleted scenes. There are also six featurettes covering various aspects of production, such as creating Fairyland and all those frilly prosthetic wings.

Movie: 2.5 stars
Extras: 2.5 stars

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