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TOOTH FAIRY

Studio: Fox

Rated: PG for mild language, some rude humor and sports action

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Ashley Judd, Julie Andrews, Brandon T. Jackson and Billy Crystal

Directed by: Michael Lembeck

What it’s about: Dwayne Johnson plays a minor league hockey player who has earned the nick name “The Tooth Fairy” because he is so good at knocking teeth out of his opponents’ mouths. However, after trampling on some dreams of kids in the audience and almost busting his girlfriend’s daughter’s belief in the Tooth Fairy, he is whisked away to Fairy Land. There, he is sentenced to two weeks as a real Tooth Fairy for “disseminating disbelief.”

What I liked: Okay, I know it’s January and all, but there are some decent aspects to this film.

The first plus is the cast. The Rock is always likeable, but it’s the supporting cast that shines. Julie Andrews, who plays the head fairy, always adds a level of sophistication to a film. Then there’s Stephen Merchant, who is pretty funny as The Rock’s guide in Fairy Land. But it’s a relatively short scene with Billy Crystal as the head of Tooth Fairy Q-Branch that really steals the show.

The movie is made for kids, and they’re the ones who are going to be interested in the relatively routine and schmaltzy story.

What I didn’t: I really do like The Rock, but I’d like to see him move out of family comedy and go back to his roots as an action star. Schwarzenegger was able to strike a balance for this, so why can’t Dwayne Johnson?

For the most part, The Rock is funny in his slapstick comedy and humiliating moments. The problem is that the script calls for too much face-to-face dialogue comedy, at which he fails miserably.

This movie feels like The Santa Clause 4: The Bicuspid Clause, and for good reason. Director Michael Lembeck also gave us the Santa Clause sequels. He brings the same level (and it’s your decision as to whether it’s a higher level or a lower level) of quality and storytelling to this movie.

Who is gonna like this movie: Kids and parents desperate for an option to The Squeakqual.

Grade: C+

LEGION

Studio: Lionsgate

Rated: PG for sequences of action violence and some mild rude humor.

Starring: Paul Bettany, Dennis Quaid, Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson and Kate Walsh

Directed by: Scott Charles Stewart

What it’s about: God ain’t happy with us wicked humans, so he sends his vast angel army to wipe us out. However, Archangel Michael doesn’t like this order, so he heads to a diner in the middle of nowhere to protect a pregnant woman who is carrying a child that is the hope of humanity. And no, the child is not a tiny Denzel Washington with a Holy Bible.

What I liked: I like a good apocalyptic thriller, and this movie delivered this to a certain degree. It also is one of those fun, violent horror films about people trapped in a diner in the middle of nowhere. This happens very often in cinema history, like in Feast, Tremors and even Maximum Overdrive. Sheesh! What’s so special about diners in the middle of nowhere?

The true highlight of this film is the epic battles between the possessed minions outside and the desperate humans inside trying to keep the baddies out. The violence in these scenes is explosive and awesome. We’ve all see the crazy old bitch and the lanky ice cream man in the trailers. And these are awesome scenes. Their whimsical yet horrifically violent Zombieland nature is the real reason to see this movie.

What I didn’t: Story and character. Even with excellent actors like Paul Bettany and Dennis Quaid, this movie is crippled by the basic storytelling elements. Pretty much whenever it seems like someone is going to have a meaningful conversation, that’s the time to get a popcorn refill or take a bathroom break, hoping you don’t miss part of the upcoming action sequence.

And, like Tooth Fairy, Legion has some pretty decent actors in mediocre roles. Do you hear me, Kate Walsh?

Who is gonna like this movie: Horror action junkies.

Grade: B+

EXTRAORDINARY MEASURES

Studio: CBS Films

Rated: PG for thematic material, language and a mild suggestive moment.

Starring: Harrison Ford, Brendan Fraser, Keri Russell, Courtney B. Vance and Dee Wallace

Directed by: Tom Vaughan

What it’s about: While this movie reminded me a lot in tone and feel to that dreadful film from last year, My Sister’s Keeper, it was much warmer and fuzzier, making it at least bearable. I tend to like both Brendan Fraser (yes, Mr. Over-the-Top Actor himself) and Harrison Ford, so it wasn’t terrible to watch them in this movie.

The film has heart, I’ll give it that. Sure, it deliberately tugs at the heartstrings at every chance it gets, but I can’t fault the good intentions behind the subject matter.

What I didn’t: This is the flagship movie of the new CBS Films, and it is a bit of a softball. There’s a real TV movie feel to it. The only thing that glosses over that is the presence of someone like Harrison Ford.

As much as the entire audience wants to see a treatment that can save the lives of the kids in this movie, I did get a bit tired of how thick they laid it on with the children’s plight. Also, a movie can only be so interesting when much of it takes place in a scientific lab.

And damn, if Harrison Ford doesn’t seem angry as hell throughout the film.

Who is gonna like this movie: Fans of the book who won’t mind some changes.

Grade: C+


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