Welcome to the JOE-DOWN, a back-and-forth movie review blog by two snarky newspapermen named Joe from Minnesota, Joe Froemming and Joe Brown. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here.
This month is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Month here at the JOE-DOWN, where we will review some flicks from The People’s Champ’s filmography.
For this week’s installment, Brown picked “The Tooth Fairy.”
The Movie: “Tooth Fairy”
Starring: The Rock, Ashley Judd, Julie Andrews
Director: Michael Lembeck
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) A bad deed on the part of a tough minor-league hockey player results in an unusual sentence: He must serve one week as a real-life tooth fairy.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 18 percent
Brown: From Hulk muscles to fairy tales, The Rock Month is bringing the JOE-DOWN to strange places.
Last week we explored the “true story” world of steroid-induced E.D. and grilled human hands of “Pain & Gain.”
And now, we have arrived in a world of crushed dreams and loose incisors in “Tooth Fairy” as The Rock ventured into the world of a family film. I suppose his previous roles like “Walking Tall” and “Doom” didn’t quite appeal to Mom, Dad and lil’ Suzie.
I was about to classify this movie as an early Hollywood misstep. Except, this was The Rock’s 15th movie. At least he got a Kid’s Choice Award nomination for this?
Hell, this movie was three years before “Pain & Gain.”
Now, what do the JOES think of this?
Froemming, your thoughts before The Rock yells at us again.
Froemming: You wanna know what I thought?
But alas, here we are.
Look, this movie’s premise is outlandish and is one that has already been covered by “The Santa Clause,” a film we should review since Tim Allen kills Santa in that.
Brown: Fun fact: The director of this movie, Michael Lembeck, directed the second and third “Santa Clause” movies.
Froemming: Was he trying to create a cinematic universe of crappy movies?
Brown: If you look at his filmography, yes.
Froemming: Even more outlandish is this movie expects me to believe The Rock is a hockey player. Look, I don’t know much about hockey beyond the pube shaving scene in “Youngblood.” But for some reason, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson does not strike me as having the proper physique of a hockey play. Why didn’t they just make his character a boxer or, say, a wrestler who happens to knock teeth out?
This movie seems to be “Quick Money: The Movie” with a cast that includes Ashley Judd, Stephen Merchant (co-creator of “The Office”), Billy Crystal, Julie Andrews and Seth McFarland. Were all these people broke in 2009-10? This is truly a mystery to me.
Brown, while I try out my fancy fairy wings, why don’t you start this off.
Brown: We start off at a minor-league hockey game where we meet goon Derek Thompson, aka The Tooth Fairy because, well, he hits hard and knocks teeth out of people’s mouths.
As I’ve brought up a couple times on the JOE-DOWN, loose teeth gross me the hell out. The “Always Sunny” scene where Charlie’s teeth come out like Pez makes me squeamish even while describing it.
As Derek heads to the penalty box, we hear him throw out a lot of tooth puns like “You can’t handle the tooth,” or “that’s the tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth.” At this point, I thought the movie was funded by Big Dentistry or something like that. Soon, The Rock will be putting braces on someone much like how Fred Flinstone used to shill cigarettes.
Froemming: You know what you are? An Anti-Dentite!
Brown: I did eat a bag of candy to spite this movie.
While Derek is a goon in the ice, we find out he’s a real son of a bitch off the ice when he STEALS A DOLLAR FROM A CHILD!
Froemming, I’ll let you take this deplorable act.
Froemming: Derek, as we see during a little poker game, is a degenerate gambler.
Brown: Also, a killer of dreams. After a game, he tells an aspiring kid hockey player that he’ll never even sniff the NHL. Then when at his girlfriend Carly’s house, Derek is about to tell her six-year-old Tess that the Tooth Fairy isn’t real. Real jaded, this Derek.
Froemming: Well, during the poker game, Derek runs out of money, because that is what happens when one has a gambling problem. So what does he do?
He goes upstairs and steals money from a child. Money the tooth fairy left her. Not only is he a degenerate gambler, he is a crusher of childhood wonderment.
And when confronted, he just tells this child the tooth fairy isn’t real, like Trump questioning a kid who believes in Santa. Well he tries. Thank God Carly steps in before he can finish.
Brown: Derek is the kind of boyfriend (later Dad because I don’t care about spoiling this movie) that Carly’s kids will tell a therapist about.
After Carly boots Derek out for trying to destroy a child’s wonder, preventing him from the single mother coitus he so richly desired, he goes to his apartment to sleep it off. Only, he gets a summons under his pillow for basically being the screen door to everyone’s submarine.
I was kind of hoping we’d get a fun server moment like the start of “Pineapple Express.”
Froemming: I don’t know if it was Bush or Obama who started the Department of Dissemination of Disbelief, Tooth Fairy Division, but I feel our tax dollars were wasted on this bloated federal program.
Brown: Considering the amount of British people that work for the department, I think this is something we can blame on the United Nations or British Parliament. I feel like the Department of Dissemination of Disbelief, Tooth Fairy Division was the catalyst of the Brexit movement.
Froemming: So Derek is summoned and finds himself in Fairy Land or whatever, a giant bureaucracy that only a numbers nerd could truly appreciate. Here he meets Tracy, a fairy without wings because of evolution, which I mean, come on movie pick a lane here. Fantastical or scientific. You get one.
Tracy informs him he is now a tooth fairy, punishment for his near-destroying a child’s belief. But he didn’t, did he? Carly stopped him before he could. So why is he being punished? Isn’t being in minor league hockey as a faded star punishment enough? I mean, he doesn’t even have $10 to play poker. Life has already punished him in its own way.
Brown: Dude didn’t have A DOLLAR for poker. LIke, go out to your car and dig up some loose change instead of taking A DOLLAR from a child.
And can we take a second to talk about how the last thing a children’s movie needs is (REDACTED) bureaucracy? Sure, “Monsters Inc.” could pull it off because the movie was animated and charming and well written. Hell, “Futurama” made bureaucracy funny with Hermes Conrad. Save for The Rock’s usual charm, “Tooth Fairy” has none of that.
Froemming: This is the nightmarish utopia that Bernie Sanders wants for us all.
After butting heads with Tracy, we are shocked to remember Julie Andrews is still alive and in this movie, because she plays Lily, the one in charge of everything here. She has sentenced Derek to two weeks of tooth fairy duty, which sounds worse than jury duty, what with all the teeth and rolled up dollar bills that look like they were just used in a cocaine scene in “Boogie Nights.”
Tell me I wasn’t the only one wondering about those rolled up bills, Brown? Rolled up bills are for snorting drugs like in “Scarface,” not to pay children for losing their teeth.
Brown: Yes, of course I thought of cocaine. Martin Scorcese has burned that imagery into my head.
OK, so what is the conversion rate of teeth to real money? Because there’s one point where Lily says they can’t give Derek anymore tooth fairy gadgets like invisibility spray and shrinking cream because they don’t have enough money to make more because (fast-forwarding a little bit) kids don’t believe as much anymore and they’re getting less teeth.
Froemming: Welcome to Dick Cheney’s America.
Brown: So now, my working theory is that the Tooth Fairy Department is harvesting teeth in the same way that poachers hunt down elephants to get their teeth for ivory. When the market gets smaller and smaller, that’s when I think fairies start getting… darker. Every childhood abduction should now begin with the Tooth Fairy Department.
Froemming: Either that or they operate like the Underpants Gnomes.
Now we need to rig Derek up with his Tooth Fairy tools. So we meet Jerry (an uncredited role for Billy Crystal) who is like a meth head version of Q from the James Bond movies. He has all sorts of gimcracks and doodads (technical terms) for Derek, like invisibility spray, shrinking paste and mints that make people bark like a dog.
I feel cocaine deserves a writing credit on this movie.
Brown: I thought this script was written by a child in crayon. So unless that child was George W. Bush, I hope cocaine wasn’t involved.
So yeah, for two weeks, Derek needs to be a tooth fairy, and he’s on call like he works for the railroad. At various points, he has to bail on his girlfriend and has to leave work to go perform his fairy duties.
His first job… I have questions.
First, Lily blows some dust in Derek’s face and he wakes up in a daze in his own bed. So yeah, fairies have powdered rohypnol.
Then when Derek does get to the location of his first job, he uses the shrinking paste to go down to six inches so he can sneak through the door. What front door exists that has enough clearance for a six-inch walking, talking bicep muscle to sneak through? You can’t fit a GI Joe through a gap in the door. That’d be drafty as hell for that house, too.
When Derek gets in the house, the family has a cat and I swear that cat gave him The People’s Eyebrow.
Finally, after getting the tooth, Derek evades multiple obstacles using a fingerboard. But as I mentioned in the “Pain & Gain” review, The Rock on a skateboard looks wrong. He’s structurally unsound while on wheels. Hell, later in the movie, when Derek is skating, it’s CLEARLY another person whose face is replaced with The Rock’s in post.
Froemming: The Rock on a skateboard is delightful, Buzz Kilington!
He gets the tooth, alright, but we have a subplot to get to!
See, Derek is in charge of making sure the new 18 year old hotshot, Mickey Donnelly, doesn’t get creamed on the ice. He is going to be huge in the NHL, so they can’t risk this little punk getting cut down in his prime in the minors. This is a subplot that I certainly did not want, need or ask for. Yet, the movie dumped it on me anyway, like a Dave Matthews tour bus dumping 800-pounds of poop upon people on a boat.
Brown: There’s never been a more perfect analogy for Dave Matthews’ music.
As for that subplot, watch “Bull Durham.” That movie did it better.
There’s also the subplot of Derek trying to bond with Carly’s son Randy, who is a teenager who’s all moody and over all of her mom’s boyfriends. All he wants to do is be in his room and play Cream on his guitar. Hell, that’s cool with me, Cream is (REDACTED) great.
But, in the name of single mom booty calls, Derek is forced to bond with a child who’s not into hockey. Somehow, they find a bond in Randy’s music when Derek convinces him to try the school talent show because guitarists get chicks.
Froemming: No, they bond because Derek scares the bejesus out of a bully at the music shop when Randy is playing a guitar. The Rock intimidates the bully by tapping him on the head with drumsticks, but I think a good old fashioned Rock Bottom would have been more entertaining and would have taught the bully a valuable life lesson: Do not pick on a kid whose mom is dating The Rock.
Brown: They also bond via gambling with Cheetos because Derek clearly has a problem and he needs to put his hockey career aside to fix his sad, sad life.
Back to his “court-ordered” tooth fairy duties, Derek’s methods are rather… unorthodox. He just throws roofie dust at people and just snags teeth. He’s admonished for not embracing the fairy spirit.
Umm, why would he embrace it? You forced him into it. Do inmates that pick up trash alongside the highway get into the spirit of the thing? I really doubt it.
Then there’s the problem of running out of supplies, which brings the idea of a fairy black market into the mix. Run by Seth MacFarlane, whose character shares a name with my parents’ dog, Ziggy.
I imagine this black-market scheme was how MacFarlane got the funding for “The Cleveland Show.”
Froemming: #HotTake “The Cleveland Show” was better than “Family Guy.”
Well, these knock-off products don’t really work. Derek turns kinda invisible for a second and then the shrinking paste just makes his head blow out and whatnot. This causes him to be seen by the mother of a child whose tooth Derek is to get.
Naturally, he is arrested for attempting to break into a home and traumatizing this poor woman with his shenanigans. Cut to Carly having to bail his ass out of jail in the middle of the night.
Brown: But all is forgiven because he throws roofie dust in her face multiple times.
Froemming: Derek commits so many crimes in this movie. Roofies, breaking-and-entering, stealing human body parts. The list is long and disturbing, much like the discography of the Dave Matthews Band.
Brown: It should be noted that Derek Thompson is the most disturbing tooth fairy in JOE-DOWN history. He has surpassed Francis Dollarhyde from “Manhunter.” That’s a JOE-DOWN deep cut for the people who have read this blog since 2016. So, Froemming and I.
Froemming: At least Francis gave that blind woman an experience of a lifetime by letting her pet that sedated tiger. Derek just traumatizes this family with his actions, words and presence.
Brown: Man, how easy would it be for Derek Thompson to be the half-Samoan, half-black Patrick Bateman? The pieces are all there, man. And, some of the scenes where he’s lurking around people’s houses, I did write down that you replace the music with something from a slasher film and this movie turns rated-R pretty quickly.
Froemming: Counterpoint: Patrick Bateman wouldn’t have to steal A DOLLAR from a child to play poker. Kill the child? The book version of Bateman, sure. But he had the money to gamble with.
After giving Randy an inspiring speech and life is generally going well, Derek takes to his roles as both hockey player and tooth fairy with gusto. He gets his hockey outfit on to take children’s teeth from under the pillow and replace it with Frank Costello’s coke bill from “The Departed.” And he uses his fairy magic to upend the career of hotshot Mickey Donnelly by going invisible and screwing around on the ice making Mickey skate in place and have him bark like a dog.
Good to see Derek still holding all that spite while life is going good for him.
Brown: Meanwhile, in real life, The Rock can hold onto the spite of working on this movie when pro wrestling fans chant “Tooth Fairy” at him.
With all this encouragement around him, Derek’s hardened shell of a personality is starting to chip away and he’s becoming less jaded. So much so that Randy convinces Derek to improve his hockey skills instead of coasting as “The Tooth Fairy” enforcer he’s been for… we’re never really told.
Froemming: Nine years. We are told. I guess I was just paying attention.
Brown: So, Derek sharpens up his puck-handling and shooting skills and is trying to be a more complete player so he can get back to the NHL.
And when Derek gets a chance to score a goal, he… freezes, clearly forgetting the valuable thing Michael Scott told him.
Clearly never hearing about how when you fall off your horse, you get back on, Derek turns back into an ass. It all culminates in him telling Randy he’ll never be a rock star. Randy smashes his guitar on the parking lot pavement, which I will admit was pretty metal. Seeing that he mentions idolizing Jimi Hendrix at one point, I fully expected him to light the guitar on fire. But this movie is PG so no, we don’t get that.
Rightfully, Carly dumps Derek. Which is something she should have done the moment he STOLE A DOLLAR FROM A CHILD!
I will never get over this.
Froemming: Yeah, he spins out of control all because he froze in one moment. And Tracy shows up all excited that he has become a tooth fair in-training, and he crushes this British fairy’s heart. And he is told he is only hurting himself more than the people around him. Not true, look at poor Randy whose dreams of being a rock star are crushed by some minor league hockey player.
The next game, Derek has to get into the game because Micky got hurt? I dunno, I was spaced out at this point in the movie, wanting it to be over with already. And he sees Tracy on the goal, encouraging him to take the shot.
Is this tooth fairy business real, or is Derek suffering from hallucinations stemming from CTE from all the bashing to the head he has had in his hockey career?
Brown: I’d like to think of Tracy moonlighting as a sort of “Angel in the Outfield.” But that wouldn’t match up since I’m sure people from England don’t know what ice hockey is. Have they ever won an Olympic medal in ice hockey?
Yes they have. They won gold when the (REDACTED) Nazis were in power in Germany in 1936.
Well, good for jolly ole England.
Somehow, Tracy’s presence convinces Derek to stop sulking and get on the ice and take his shot. And he scores!
… And then he turns into a fairy because why the (REDACTED) not? And he learns how to fly, which makes no sense when he’s playing in an indoor arena until a portal magically appears.
For a movie that’s already incredibly stupid, I think this is the part that broke me. It probably happened the moment Tracy used a roofie ray to make the crowd forget about seeing Derek flying in the sky so fancy free like the Duff Blimp.
Froemming: The tooth he has to retrieve is Carly’s daughter’s tooth. You know, the child he stole a dollar from in the first 20 minutes of this movie. He sneaks into the home and wakes the girl up to tell her he is the tooth fairy and waves some magic dust around, which is the roofie dust? I dunno, I do know I felt uncomfortable when I saw that based on the past hour-and-a-half of this movie.
He then sneaks into Randy’s room an apologizes for crushing his hopes and dreams…
(REDACTED) Derek is the worst single-mom boyfriend in cinema history.
So Randy buys his apology and they all need to get to the talent show, which is still going on at what seems like 11:30 at night. Because (REDACTED) logic, which would have been a great tagline for this movie. They all head out and Derek is gonna fly Randy there and then…
Lily and Tracy nab Derek and say his punishment is up. And they are going to pull a Men in Black on him and erase his memory, making this whole adventure pointless and thus, no lessons learned because how could they when Derek remembers none of it.
Brown: Also, Derek half-assed proposed to Carly, so there’s that.
And, in the post-credits, we see that Derek made it back to the NHL as a member of the Los Angeles Kings. And Billy Crystal is there to cheer him on, going so far as to shrink to a size that’ll let him ride the puck because that’s a good idea?
BTW, we didn’t mention Billy Crystal in this review. My take: He did Billy Crystal things. He probably ad-libbed. It was kind of entertaining. A riot when you consider the rest of this flick.
You got anything to say about ol’ Billy before we go, Froemming?
Froemming: It is an uncredited role for Billy, which I don’t blame him.
Let’s ride these zambonis down to recommendations!
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Brown: No. If not for Rock’s charisma, this should have been his “Mr. Nanny.”
Froemming: Nah. This is a pretty bad movie, even for a children’s movie.