Dwayne Johnson, from left, receives important instructions from Stephen Merchant and Julie Andrews in the silly "Tooth Fairy." (20th Century Fox)
As dental experiences go, "Tooth Fairy" doesn't hurt as much as you might think.
True, the movie is shamelessly silly kid fare, espousing upbeat, dream-big morals, leaning on the incongruent image of burly Dwayne Johnson dressed in a tutu and reveling in a series of (deliciously) bad puns that even a 5-year-old can appreciate.
Yeah, well, the movie's intended for 5-year-olds. It's called "Tooth Fairy," for pity's sake. You're expecting an intimate look at an urban therapy group that works as a metaphor for globalization?
Of course not.
This is supposed to be a lightweight, goofy film for kids, and it is just that. The unexpected side benefit for parents is that, while the story elements are all standard, a lot of the jokes are funnier than you'd expect.
This probably has to do with the screenplay coming from veterans Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, a duo that ruled Hollywood 20 years back ("Parenthood," "Splash," "City Slickers") and apparently still knows how to get goofy onscreen.
Johnson plays Derek, an aging minor league hockey player with an unfortunate habit of stomping on kids' imaginations.
As a result, he is forced by tooth-fairy godmother Lily (Julie Andrews) to take on tooth fairy chores for a couple of weeks, complete with wings, amnesia powder, shrinking toothpaste and invisible spray.
This wreaks havoc on his relationship with Carly (Ashley Judd) and her two kids. But of course Derek comes to believe in the power of imagination and the essential goodness of dreams.
What, you wanted him to go over to the dark side and eat the children?
"Tooth Fairy" may cause mild brain decay and temporary diabetes, but that's no reason to yank it from the lineup of movies your kids can watch. Floss afterward with a couple of good Pixar flicks and everything will be fine.