Johnson plays Derek Thompson, a man nicknamed 'The Tooth Fairy' on the hockey rink due to his aggressive approach to the game. On the surface he's fairly affable and friendly - sharing chuckles with his girlfriend Carly's (Ashley Judd) daughter Tess (Destiny Whitlock) and attempting to build bridges with her moody son Randy (Chase Ellison). Spend a while in his company, though, and he's actually got quite a cruel streak. After dashing the hopes of a young hockey hopeful, he soon gets himself in hot water with Carly after almost revealing to Tess that the tooth fairy doesn't exist. This faux pas doesn't just upset his other half, it riles up a higher power and he's sentenced to spend time as a real-life tooth fairy to make amends.
Despite the somewhat original set-up, the film's executed in a fairly unimaginative manner - clumsily stumbling from one pedestrian set piece to another as it sends its protagonist on a transformative journey from cynical non-believer into positive role model. Johnson is game in the lead role, at first donning a pink tutu then blue figure-hugging duds to take on fairy duties. The gags might be a more miss than hit and Michael Lembeck's direction by-the-numbers (there's some clunky CG in a sequence where a shrunken Derek gets pursued by a cat), but at least the cast bring some verve to their roles.
The family angle with Johnson and Judd never quite establishes a strong connection, so it's left to the characters in the fairy world to make an impact. In a surprisingly significant role, Ricky Gervais's sidekick Stephen Merchant gives the stand-out turn as Tracy, an administrator who's a stickler for the rules. Merchant's giraffe-like physique and beady eyes make him a great comic foil for Johnson. He's also able to find emotion in the character, with an exchange late on between Tracy and Derek being one of the few genuinely moving moments in the film. Elsewhere, Julie Andrews and Billy Crystal make effective extended cameo appearances and Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane appears briefly as a shady fairy peddling second-hand supplies.
Tooth Fairy's six credited screenwriters probably don't help it feel like a coherent and unified whole - this clash in style is most evident when Lembeck flits between scenes of light-hearted comedy and crunching ice hockey match footage. It's kept bearable, though, by its devout leading man and his eccentric supporting cast. It's Johnson's committed central performance - in a movie with a lot of shortcomings - that only underlines the fact that he's got an awful lot of charisma and screen presence and hasn't yet had a truly great vehicle to channel that talent into.
> What do you think of the movie? Share your views