As I continue on this journey I’m learning a lot about movies and my own viewing habits. One of them is, for the past ten to twenty years I have only seen movies if I was fairly certain I would like them, and even then my average was about fifty-fifty good versus bad. I will go into this more in my ‘month in review’ post which I shall do up as soon as I’ve wrapped up this months films, but I feel part of that information should be imparted now. Namely, the simple fact that there are some movies that I’m just not going to like.
It’s a mutual decision between me and the film.
Tooth Fairy doesn’t care if I like it, I don’t care if it doesn’t like me, neither of us need each other. So…you would think writing a review of it would be a walk in the park. But the thing is, it’s January. And I’m realizing now that if I point out that every movie that is boring and predictable is…well….boring and predictable, then I’m going to be writing that a lot this year. There is, after all, a world of films I haven’t been seeing. Those that are boring and predictable and are fine with that thankyou very much. Me saying it isn’t helping anyone.
But the thing is despite the fact that I wouldn’t recommend this film I found myself, after having seen the Spy Next Door and Leap Year, impressed. Maybe it’s because I’ve now been introduced to the concept of comparative scale (this movie is good for a summer movie. This movie is good for a romantic comedy. as opposed to this movie is good because I liked watching it) that I actually see things in this film that I might not have seen otherwise.
So, for this post, I’m going to tell you what works in this movie that I wasn’t too big on. After all, this journey is about me becoming a better filmmaker, not me becoming a better critic.
Tooth Fairy tells the story of Derek Thomson (played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). Derek used to be in the NHL but an injury sent him to the minors. While there he found that he had the ability to knock people’s teeth out with a decent shoulder check (in this film, hockey players don’t wear bite guards. Everyone seems to accept this). Derek is dubbed “the Tooth Fairy”. He stops trying to rehab his shoulder so that he can go back to the majors, and turns into a goon. He protects those that score points and the crowd loves him for it. But Derek has lost his faith, and his belief, and the result is he is constantly crushing the hopes and dreams of those around him. The last straw is when he is over at his girlfriends house (Ashley Judd) and without thinking he almost destroys her youngest daughters belief in the Tooth Fairy.
The next night he receives his punishment for this, as he receives, under his pillow, a summons to go to Fairyland, where he is forced to work for one week as a Tooth Fairy, as a punishment for killing dreams.
Things that worked.
Dialogue: The movie was written by Lowell Ganz and Baballoo Mandel. Two legends of the screenplay world. While the story is ultimately beneath them, they shoot in some genuinely good one liners and surprisingly accurate depictions of why it is an aging athlete might lose his confidence.
Derek’s life: Derek is stuck in the time when he had money. His car, his apartment, his clothes. Everything kind of looks like he stopped buying things in the nineties. This is my favourite thing about the movie. Take Derek’s car, a nineties model Corvette. Now, a lazy Filmmaker would have gone one of two ways. One, give Derek a horrible, beat up, falling apart car to make sure everyone knows he’s going through hard times or two, give Derek a new model luxury somethingsomething, not because it has anything to do with the story line but because Lexus or BMW or whatever paid good money to get their new model car in a movie and god damned it they’re going to see it there. But that Derek still drives his corvette, the one he probably bought with his first big paycheck, just fills you with a sense of tragedy. This guy is still pretending to be who he was ten years ago.
Cast: Lots of good here. Dwayne Johnson is likeable and a better actor than any pro wrestling star to make the cross over yet. Stephen Merchant (as the wingless tooth Fairy that helps Derek learn the ropes) essentially takes the Ricky Gervaise role as the dry englishman and show he can do it just as well. Julie Andrews, well, I love Mary Poppins so she can do no wrong. And while Ashley Judd is in a very generic role that wouldn’t have stood out if it was played by Meryl Streep, those that play her two kids (Chase Ellison as the surly teenaged boy and Destiny Whitlock as the little girl in danger of losing her belief) are surprisingly good in their roles. Not too cutesy, and not full of gestures that child actor often rely on. Either they are naturally gifted or well directed but either way, they work.
As for the rest of the movie, it’s exactly what you’d expect. Derek learns to believe, children get confidence, the hockey team wins, basically everyone is better off at the end than they were at the beginning just as it should be in a film like this. But on a comparative scale, it is at least a step above this years other formula films. I think this is why more critics use a star system. While this is not a good film, it at least puts in enough effort to earn two stars (as opposed to Leap Year or the Spy Next Door which would only get one a piece). And honestly, after sitting through some pretty painful experiences so far this month, I’m at least happy a few people were trying on this one, even if they didn’t totally succeed.
Okay, next up (I.E. tonight) is Extraordinary Measures. Which wraps up the third week of January.