A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this fantasy comedy starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is generally age-appropriate for young tweens and up. Like most family comedies featuring action stars, there's some rude language that you won't want your kids repeating (mostly insults like "shut up" and "fool") and violence -- in this case, players slamming into each other during hockey games (in one scene, a player ends up with a missing tooth). But also as expected, The Rock's surly character ultimately transforms into a sweet guy who believes in the power of dreams.
What's the story?
Derek "The Tooth Fairy" Thompson (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) is a mean minor-league hockey player with a chip on his shoulder. Once a pro, he's best known in the minors for accruing the most penalties in the league by smashing into opponents so hard they lose a tooth. He takes pleasure in telling young fans to lower their expectations and stop having unrealistic dreams. After nearly ruining the tooth fairy fantasy for his girlfriend Carly's (Ashley Judd) little girl, he's summoned to Tooth Fairy Land for the crime of Dissemination of Disbelief. Derek appears before fairy judge Lily (Julie Andrews), who sentences him to spend two weeks as a tooth fairy -- complete with wings, stockinged feet, and a personal caseworker, Tracy (Stephen Merchant). On call to collect teeth at a moment's notice, Derek's new job challenges his beliefs, his relationship with Carly, and his hockey performance -- ultimately for the better.
Is it any good?
The Rock has the powerful body of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the easy charm of Vince Vaughn, with a blindingly white smile that's hard to ignore. That's not a bad combination for a comedy, but it's gangly, bug-eyed British comedian Merchant (Ricky Gervais' creative partner in crime) who steals the show in this sugar-sweet kids' fantasy. It's not that the movie is completely awful, but it is awfully derivative and absolutely nothing parents haven't seen before. But with his dry wit and hilarious body language, Merchant at least livens up some of the bland jokes and predictable sight gags. The Rock looks comfortable enough, but there's just not much to his character that isn't summed up in the trailer.
It's always good to see Andrews in any capacity, and it's an even bigger treat to see Billy Crystal, who somehow came out of live-action semi-retirement to play the fairy in charge of gadgets. It's unclear why he chose this particular movie to grace with an uncredited performance, but his Jerry the Fairy is, along with Merchant's Tracy, one of the best reasons to see what's otherwise a so-so movie with a lovely but obvious message about children -- and adults -- needing to have dreams.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's messages about dreams and fantasy. Is there a middle ground between Derek's dream-killing stance and someone whose dreams might seem far out of reach?
Derek relies on his tough-guy persona and good looks. Is this a negative role model for boys and young men?
Is the action-star-in-a-family-comedy genre predictable? Did you know generally what would happen at the end? Was the happy ending less satisfying because it was so obvious?
- In theaters: January 22, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: May 4, 2010
- Cast: Ashley Judd, Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Julie Andrews
- Director: Michael Lembeck
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Sports and Martial Arts
- Run time: 85 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild language, some rude humor and sports action
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.