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Derek Thompson’s (Dwayne Johnson) NHL dream appears to have taken a detour. Bothered by a shoulder injury, he was sent back to the minor leagues where his rough play and bone jarring hits leave other players without their teeth. Nicknamed the Tooth Fairy, Derek isn’t much of a role model in other respects either. After a game, he bluntly discourages a peewee fan from aiming for a future career on ice.
(Unfortunately a lot of hockey parents and young players who think they are on track to be the next Wayne Gretzky could probably benefit from a similar kind of reality check. But in the movies, anything is possible and nobody wants to hear that kind of news.)
For his harsh remarks, Derek receives a summons to appear before a magical court where he is tried for the crime of disseminating disbelief. Testifying before a winged Godmother (Julie Andrews), the dream killer is sentenced to serve time as a tooth fairy and assigned a spindly, 6’ 7" caseworker Tracy (Stephen Merchant) to help him learn his duties. Meanwhile at home, Derek’s girlfriend Cindy (Ashley Judd) is trying to help the left-winger connect with her children Randy (Chase Ellison) and Tess (Destiny Whitlock).
But donning tights and a tunic is a stretch for the athlete who is more comfortable wearing protective pads and pushing players into the boards. Even with the help of an elderly pixie (Billy Crystal) who outfits the reluctant player with shrinking paste, amnesia dust and invisibility spray, Derek struggles to gracefully perform his new responsibilities.
Luckily for viewers, Derek’s punishment eventually has a positive impact on him although some mood swings during his probation period spell trouble on and off the ice as he takes his aggression out on others. Yet he is not the only individual to change for the better. Other characters in the film also experience personal growth and an opportunity to chase their own dreams.
The film also addresses some realistic issues faced by single parent families. Despite Cindy’s hopes for her current relationship, her son Randy isn’t as impressed with Derek as she is. For him, Derek is just one more man parading into their home. Already struggling with the insecurities of adolescence, it will take more than a forced afternoon of guy time to bond with his mom’s brawny boyfriend.
Still for most family members, Tooth Fairy has plenty to applaud. With relatively few content concerns outside of some sports violence, the film portrays positive character development and attitude adjustments along with some jokes that even parents will find amusing. Though few of us will ever achieve all of our aspirations, there is something to be said for pursuing our passions as long as we can.