"What are you gonna do now, Chuck?"
Of all the mythical childhood icons, the Tooth Fairy is the hardest to pin down visually. Bunnies are easy enough to visualize, and Santa has pretty much every retailer in the Western Hemisphere working as his PR agent. As a child I would visualize the Tooth Fairy as a variation on the Disney rendition of Peter Pan's Tinkerbell. The restraining order I received from Disney's legal department put a stop to that, effectively bringing my childhood to an end at the tender age of thirty-seven. To realign my visualization of the Tooth Fairy, the Disney folks sent along an eight by ten of Bea Arthur in a leotard, tutu, and wings. I have not been quite right since.
The Tooth Fairy we meet in this film is quite a different take on the character. More of a witch than a fairy, she's riddled with tumors and murders children. TRY TO TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME, DISNEY!
Peter Campbell (Lochlyn Munroe) is fixing up an old country home into a bed and breakfast with the aid of hunky young handyman Bobby (Jesse Hutch). Peter's former fiance Darcy (Chandra West) and her daughter Pamela (Nicole Munoz) come to visit for the weekend. Pamela makes friends with a little girl named Emma (Jianna Ballard) that no one else can see. Emma warns Pamela about the evil witch that used to live in the house and was known for taking the local children's last baby tooth and delivering gory lawn and garden tool death in return. She places the children's teeth in her magic music box, condemning their souls to wander the earth. After a spill on her bicycle, Pamela loses her last baby tooth and becomes a target for the witch.
The Tooth Fairy doesn't seem quite as selective as the legend would lead folks to believe. She starts whacking characters left and right--starting with Bobby who telegraphs his own demise when he says he can get that old wood chipper working again--then working her way through the cast. Genre vet P.J. Soles plays Mrs. MacDonald the next door neighbor who gives Peter and Darcy the secret to defeating the witch, and Peter's freeloading rock star wannabe pal Cole is played by Steve Bacic who played the pre-blue-furred Hank McCoy in X2.
Now, I've seen a lot of bad movies in my day. A film can go wrong in just about any area, but The Tooth Fairy commits probably the worst sin that a film can commit: it's cripplingly mediocre. Nothing is cringe-inducingly bad, which would at least make it memorable. Instead we have a cluster of reasonably talented actors playing some not terribly interesting characters in a film that I really find it hard to care about. Further whittling away at the film's credibility are a series of missteps, including an ultra dorky dinner montage sequence with cheesy pseudo pop music on the soundtrack, the fact that Darcy's near rape experience is practically ignored, and perhaps worst of all the use of one of film and television's most cliched lines used by an estranged couple, "we always did make a good team." Come on, people, who the hell says that?
The clunky use of expository dialogue trades believability for brevity. Pamela describes Peter as, "Peter Campbell. He and my mom used to be engaged. He was a doctor then. Now he quit. He just writes short stories." And when Stephanie (Carrie Fleming) introduces herself to Peter she tells him, "I used to dance down at the Grease Monkey in town, but I've saved up enough to retire from show biz so I'm going to veterinary college." To reinforce this she spots some humming birds and recites the Latin name for their species. Characterization that has been distilled into concentrated pill form does things to my gastrointestinal tract that one doctor told me was reminiscent of the Ebola virus.
Add to it all an historically inaccurate interpretation of the Salem witch phenomenon, and you've got another direct to dvd film that needs to be purged from your Netflix queue.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
"What are you gonna do now, Chuck?"