Family Comedy Gone Limp: Tooth Fairy

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Tooth Fairy
Directed by Michael Lembeck
20th Century Fox
Opens January 22

It’s hard to know what Dwayne Johnson has less faith in: his talent or his audience. Though hardly a comedic dynamo, Johnson has generated laughs with his easygoing charm in forgettable studio products like Get Smart and Planet 51, appealingly undercutting his beefcake physique by letting his characters’ arrogance blow up in their faces. But being likable can only take you so far, as witnessed in Tooth Fairy, director Michael Lembeck’s paint-by-numbers family comedy about a washed-up hockey player (Johnson) who tells his girlfriend’s daughter that the tooth fairy isn’t real and ends up summoned to Fairyland (run by Julie Andrews and Stephen Merchant), where he’s forced to become a tooth fairy to learn the importance of believing in something. With its broader-than-broad comedy and trite inspirational messages, Tooth Fairy requires little of your higher brain functions, thereby allowing you ample time to focus on Johnson’s performance. And while his warmth and lack of self-regard makes him far preferable to his PG-comedy counterparts, Martin Lawrence and Ice Cube, one can’t escape the suspicion that Johnson seems perfectly happy coasting through bland mediocrities. It used to be that his former career as a wrestler was his biggest obstacle to becoming a Hollywood star—now, it appears to be laziness.

 
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