'Tooth Fairy' full of smiles - The Explorer: El Sol

'Tooth Fairy' full of smiles

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Posted: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 8:20 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Associated Press

'Tooth Fairy'

Rated PG for mild language, some rude humor and sports action. Running time: 101 minutes. Two stars out of four.

 

Just weeks after something dubbed a "squeakquel," we have a movie advertised with the tagline: "You can't handle the tooth." One quakes for the marketing that awaits us for "Marmaduke."

Just as Hollywood has been digging through the superhero archives, it has also been marauding the cupboard of mythical childhood creatures — they come with a "built-in" audience, after all. Yes, following the big-screen exploits of elves and bedroom monsters, the Tooth Fairy was inevitably ready for its close-up.

"Tooth Fairy" steals liberally from "Monsters Inc." and "Elf," among many others. But despite its predictability and pat Hollywood cliche, "Tooth Fairy" is mostly charming.

Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock) is Derek Thompson, a formerly skilled hockey player who, after injury, has wound up "a goon" — a bruiser whose muscle shields more talented players — on a minor league hockey team in Lansing, Mich. He's beloved by the fans, who chant his nickname "the Tooth Fairy" because of his ability for sending bicuspids flying.

His overriding philosophy is akin to the early rounds of "American Idol": Dreams are nothing but delusion. He dashes the hopes of pip-squeak fans and very nearly ruins them for the two young children (Chase Ellison, Destiny Whitlock) of his girlfriend, Carly (Ashley Judd).

In violation of "dissemination of disbelief" (Bill Maher be warned) he's summoned to Fairyland, where he's sentenced to two weeks of Tooth Fairy duty by Andrews' Fairy Godmother.

Stephen Merchant, the spindly, googly-eyed comedian best known as Ricky Gervais' frequent collaborator, plays Derek's "case worker," and ushers him through fairy training. The spry, ever-grinning Merchant is a considerable boost to the film — he's innately funny.

Billy Crystal (who also voiced one of the monsters in "Monsters Inc.") makes a cameo as an older fairy "with tenure," who outfits Derek with the tools of the trade: a shrinking potion, amnesia dust, an invisibility spray, a cat repeller.

Johnson is perhaps ill suited to believably play a cynic. His enormous grin, even when in repose, is never far below the surface. He knows enough about comedy (he's been an excellent "SNL" host) to make the joke on him. Comedy may be the movie realm (rather than action or, for now, drama) best for Johnson. He's like a human-sized Buzz Lightyear.

That Derek should be neatly redeemed — and turned from Sean Avery into Sidney Crosby, to boot — is patently obvious and confirms the lack of ambition of "Tooth Fairy."

But movies that implore whether or not you can handle the tooth aren't to be picked apart like a dentist. Suffice to say, families could do a lot worse than spend some time with the toothy smiles of Johnson and Merchant.

 

'Extraordinary Measures'

Rated PG for thematic material, language and a mild suggestive moment. 104 minutes. Two stars out of four.

 

This medical drama has been marketed as another "Blind Side," a true story about quiet heroism, doing the right thing and overcoming great odds.

But imagine if "The Blind Side" had focused on the legal processes necessary for Michael Oher's adoption instead of the football and spunky Sandra Bullock and you have an idea of the strange path "Extraordinary Measures" takes on its road to inspiration.

The movie tells the fictionalized story of the Crowley family, whose two youngest children are afflicted with Pompe disease, a metabolic disorder that leads to muscle degeneration and short life expectancy.

The dad (Brendan Fraser) decides to fight for a cure, partnering with an eccentric scientist (Harrison Ford) to beat the clock and save his kids' lives. The filmmakers strangely focus on funding and paperwork instead of the human drama with a lot of time spent watching Ford and Fraser bicker and make investor presentations.

The debut feature of CBS Films, who, next time, might want to deliver a film that veers a little farther from the kind of fare people can watch at home for free.

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