You know, the pun gets a bad rap. Sure it’s a cheap way to get a laugh and most of the time — actually all of the — time it’s a lame joke, but when it’s delivered with enough panache and charisma even the worst pun and can make you crack a smile. I dare any pun hater to head into Tooth Fairy and not laugh at what must be a world record for number of puns in a movie. It’s not because they’re all that great or because the rest of the movie is all that funny, but I’ll be damned if Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson isn’t the greatest deliverer of puns since Jack Nicholson’s Joker.
Not that Tooth Fairy is all about the puns, there is childish slapstick as well and a heartwarming life lesson to be learned, but it is once again Johnson who makes what could have been an absolutely terrible movie both entertaining and enjoyable. The story, which was probably written around the idea of putting Johnson in a tutu, follows Derek, an aging minor league hockey player whose dreams of playing in the pros have been crushed. Because of this, Derek doesn’t believe in dreams anymore and thus goes around crushing other people’s dreams as well. This doesn’t work out so well for the two kids of his girlfriend (Ashley Judd) or for his fans. Eventually he almost tells one child that the tooth fairy doesn’t exist, and suddenly he is punished by having to be a tooth fairy for two weeks. This is evidently how karma actually works.
What begins as a terrible premise that sounds unbelievably stupid turns into a fantastic kid’s movie with enough laughs to keep parents involved as well. Yes, the premise remains idiotic, but it somehow works and works pretty darn well. This is in no small part in thanks to Johnson, who seems to be able to turn even the worst ideas and clichés into something enjoyable to watch. The man made Doom watchable, I don’t know why I doubted him now.
It also helps, and probably aided the screenplay a lot, that he’s surrounded by great cameos and supported by Stephen Merchant, who co-created The Office (the British version). Billy Crystal practically reprises his legendary role as Miracle Max from The Princess Bride and any time you get a chance to see Julie Andrews on screen is a good thing. The impressive thing is that Johnson easily goes toe-to-toe with theses legends of comedy. Fine, they’re just slinging grade school puns at each other, but they sling them really well. You may think that it couldn’t get much worse than the trailer’s “You can’t handle the tooth,” but that is just barely scratching the surface of the amazingly bad puns thrown at the audience.
Again, this isn’t a bad thing, especially for the younger kids who might be tired of having most of the jokes fly right over their head. Since it is a kid’s movie I can forgive the many, many loopholes and plot failures too. None of the children at my screening seemed to mind some glaring issues with the film’s ending, so I figured I shouldn’t either, especially since Merchant compared Johnson’s head to the statues on Easter Island. I’m pretty sure that most of us want to see “The Rock” return to his action movie roots, but I must admit he does do the children’s comedy thing really, really well. What can I say, I’m just a sucker for a large muscular man dressed in a tutu.