Posted in: Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on May 18th, 2010
“You, sir, are guilty of disseminating disbelief. Killing dreams. Committing first-degree murder of fantasy, which by Fairy Law, in order to pay your debt to humanity, you are hereby ordered to serve time as a Tooth Fairy. The normal sentence is one week, but because you have the nerve, the unmitigated gall, to actually call yourself a Tooth Fairy, thus making a mockery of everything we stand for, I’m sentencing you to two weeks Tooth Fairy duty.”
Dwayne (once The Rock) Johnson has made a bit of a new career move over the last few years. When he left the wrestling ring to “go Hollywood” the expectation was always that he would become an action hero. It’s what his fans expected. It’s what Johnson wanted, at the time. Movies like The Scorpion King were created completely as vehicles for Johnson to show off his physique and join the ranks of the big strong action heroes. It didn’t exactly work out as well as everyone involved expected. He wasn’t a flop, but he wasn’t setting the movie industry on fire either. But with movies like The Game Plan and Race To Witch Mountain, Johnson appears to have a knack for working with kids in films targeted primarily at kids. He’s become a big teddy bear, and it’s paying off quite handsomely. While he still hasn’t given up the wrestling gigs and an action role here and there, his biggest success so far in Hollywood has been with the kids.
“You can’t handle the tooth.”
Derek Thompson (Johnson) is a minor league hockey player who was sent down 9 years ago and got comfortable as an enforcer. That’s the kind of guy whose only job is to intimidate the other team. He ends up with the nickname The Tooth Fairy, because of his predilection for smashing into guys and knocking out their teeth. The fans love him. But he’s a cynical star who has long ago given up the dream of playing “real” hockey. His advice to young fans is to give up any dreams of making it big. And now he has even more to be cynical about. A new kid has joined the team who is beginning to win over the hearts of the fans. They call him Mick the Stick, and he’s on the rise. Now Derek might be on the way out. Somehow he manages to get himself a young and attractive girlfriend, Carly (Judd) with three kids. But he’s fixing to ruin that relationship as well with his “downer” personality. Carly lets him babysit one night to try to bond with the kids. Little Tess (Whitlock) has lost her tooth and put it under her pillow for the Tooth Fairy. While watching the kids, Derek has the gang over to play poker. When he comes up short to cover a hand, he steals little Tess’s tooth money right from under her pillow. When he forgets to return it, Tess wakes to no tooth … and no coin (of course, it’s bills nowadays). Derek blows it by telling her there is no such thing as the Tooth Fairy. Wrong move.
The next night Derek finds something under his own pillow. It’s a summons to Fairy Court, where he is found guilty of killing dreams and sentenced to two weeks Tooth Fairy duty. He gets his equipment from Jerry (Crystal), the fairy Q character. He gets all of the essential items: disappearing spray, shrinking cream, amnesia dust (what?) amnesia dust, and cat repellant. Fortunately, he’s given a better uniform. When he first gets summoned Derek finds himself in a pink tutu … oh, and he has wings. Derek’s social worker is a wingless fairy, Tracy (Merchant) who wants very much to be a Tooth Fairy himself. After some training, Derek is released back into his life. But whenever there’s a tooth to be retrieved, he sprouts his wings and must return to duty. Needless to say, Tooth Fairy duty is going to put a crimp in his style.
“The Tooth hurts.”
The heart of the film is where it’s at, and it comes directly from the performances. It was rather a nice thing to see Julie Andrews in something somewhat magical again. Her entrance is very reminiscent of Mary Poppins flying in on her umbrella in that Disney classic. You really halfway expect her to break out in song by the time she comes gently to the floor. She still has the charm she did, I won’t mention quite how many years ago. (You’re welcome, Julie.) I’m not a huge fan of Stephen Merchant, but he has a pretty nice bit of chemistry going with Johnson here. I find him rather pompous and annoying in general, but it works here, for the most part. If there was a short performance almost worth the price of admission, it has to be Billy Crystal as the gadget fairy Jerry. It’s a one- scene, one-joke bit, but it’s priceless. Ashley Judd is considerably underused as Derek’s girlfriend Carly. It’s about time she got back to playing roles with a bit more meat in them. Fox animation funnyman Seth MacFarlane has a rather interesting part as a fairy named Ziggy here. Top it all off with some interesting f/x, many of them practical, and you have an entertaining film that’s at least worth a quick rent.
The Tooth Fairy is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The 1080p image is arrived at with an AVC MPEG-4 codec at an average 30 mbps. There are a lot of interesting f/x shots in the film, from a shrinking Dwayne Johnson to the flying scenes. The high-definition transfer provides plenty of lifelike detail, yet these f/x shots blend seamlessly with the practical side of things. Colors are actually a little soft and subdued. Even the pinks and pastels of Fairy Land are not really as bright as you might expect. It’s obvious Lembeck was going for more realistic than fantastic. Black levels are pretty deep, offering some nice shadow definition in places. The print is in pristine condition.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track does offer a bit of extra ambient f/x. The twirling magical sound of the amnesia dust is a great example of a subtle surround effect. There is plenty of ear candy to keep you immersed in the story. A lot of the film is, of course, dialog, and it’s presented well here. I was particularly impressed with some of the hockey scenes. The shaving of the ice against the skates is super-realistic and more than a little in your face. Consider it a form of 3D sound.
All of the extras are in HD.
Introduction By Director Michael Lembeck: (:22) It’s really a welcome to the DVD extras.
Tooth Fairy Training Center: (20:31) This is really an exercise video.
Fairyoke: (4:32) There’s an optional intro with Lembeck. There was a version of Wind Beneath My Wings sung by Johnson and Merchant. It was intended to be played during the end credits. It’s terrible, and you can see why it was dropped.
Gag Reel: (2:34)
Deleted Scenes: (8:22) (11:16) with optional intro material: There are 6 with an optional play all. There is also an option to include an intro to each scene by Lembeck. I like when they set things up this way. I’d rather have an intro than an optional commentary making me decide if I want to hear the dialog or the explanation (or watch each scene twice). This way I get both with minimal time spent.
Behind The Scenes: (38:55): There are 8 parts. You can play them individually or use the handy play all. Once again there’s an optional introduction. This is a very different making-of feature. For the first half of the running time you get behind-the-scenes footage, while Lembeck offers a narration to explain what you’re looking at. It’s almost like listening to an Audio Commentary of the bonus features. Lembeck even pauses the screen while he continues to explain. Each segment starts with paused title screen while he sets up the section. The last 14 minutes is more your traditional behind-the-scenes cast and crew bits.
DVD and Digital Copy
I have to tell you that this film looked like such a bad idea when I first heard about it. When I saw the trailer, it looked like an even worse idea. By the time the Blu-ray arrived at my door, I started to figure out ways I could avoid watching it. It’s the kind of film that I end up saving to watch with my wife, because, after all misery does tend to like company. By the time it was over, I was feeling a lot better about the film overall. It’s still really silly, and watching Dwayne Johnson in a pink tutu … well you get the picture, at least you will if you decide to invest a couple of hours in The Tooth Fairy. Give the big guy a ton of credit for allowing himself to do films like this. He’s gotta be an okay guy. It works, and it’s not because of the silly humor, or anything to do with the story, really. It works because behind all of the sophomoric jokes there’s just the slightest bit of heart behind the film. Enough, anyway, to make it all seem worth the time before it’s all over. Will I ever watch it again? Probably not, but I’ll hang on to it just in case. It’s the kind of film that might just have you saying, “What if…”