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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Excuse me if this review is a little short; I hate this movie so much that I donít want to waste any more time talking about it than I have to.

Tooth Fairy may be the worst concept in the history of cinema. Dwayne Johnson plays Derek Thompson, a faded (and self-absorbed) hockey player nicknamed "the Tooth Fairy" because of his propensity for knocking out opponents' teeth during rough play. He dates a single mom (Ashley Judd) with two generic movie children. When her daughter loses a tooth, Derek is supposed to be in charge of putting money under her pillow. He screws that up and, as a result, is summoned to Fairy Land, where he is forced to spend two weeks as a real Tooth Fairy, under the guidance of a case manager (Stephen Merchant) and a stern Fairy Queen (Julie Andrews). He's not very good at the job, and it threatens his hockey career and his relationship.

Dwayne Johnson as the Tooth Fairy: possibly the worst concept in movie history.
Let's stop right here for a second, just in case you missed the massive plot hole. The film shows us an adult putting money under the pillow of a child who has lost a tooth, thereby implying that parents are the tooth fairies. Then it promptly proceeds to turn the main character into a "real" tooth fairy. If parents do it and the movie knows parents do it, doesn't that eradicate the entire premise? What, in this imaginary universe, are tooth fairies needed for if parents do all the actual work for them? This movie is so freaking stupid that it can't even play by its own rules.

Maybe one could overlook that Grand Canyon-sized credibility gap if the picture had anything even remotely resembling actual humor. The "jokes" here are so old that they were probably first scrawled by Neanderthals on cave walls. Derek is given an assortment of magic gizmos, each of which he fails to use properly in slapstick ways. At one point, he shrinks himself and is chased by a cat. He also gets whacked in the nuts a time or two. The dialogue is riddled with horrible puns such as "You can't handle the tooth!" That's the level of wit we get.

Of course, the main joke is that big macho Dwayne Johnson has to wear silk pajamas, a tutu, and wings. It's not a funny image, yet the whole film rests on it. Johnson used to make action movies and, of course, he was a pro wrestler prone to beating people over the head with folding chairs. His recent on-screen efforts (including The Game Plan and the Witch Mountain remake) have reduced him to being a clown for children. The act is wearing increasingly thin. It's time to go back to what he does best.

Just as bad as the "comedy" are Tooth Fairy's attempts at poignancy. Of course, Derek learns to become a better person. He inspires his girlfriend's kids, gets revenge on a snooty rival, solves all his caseworker's problems, wins over the disapproving Fairy Queen, etc. These notes ring false because they're all pre-programmed. If you don't see them coming a mile away, you need new glasses.

Stephen Merchant proved hilarious on the HBO series "Extras" (he also co-created "The Office"). Julie Andrews is, obviously, a legend. Billy Crystal (who plays the gadget guru) is a comedy icon. Why are they stooping to appear in such a hackneyed, uninspired story? And why on earth has the talented Ashley Judd been reduced to taking a thankless girlfriend role? Is her career that hard up? I don't buy the "making one for the kids" excuse. These stars, and Johnson, know better. My son is 14 months old. When he's old enough to go with me to the movies, I hope I am able to guide his taste toward films of actual imagination, rather than the latest pre-fabricated crap of the week, which is precisely what this picture is.

If someone offers you the choice between seeing Tooth Fairy or getting a root canal, opt for the root canal. It'll be less painful.

( out of four)

Tooth Fairy is rated PG for mild language, rude humor and sports action. The running time is 1 hour and 42 minutes.

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