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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Tooth Fairy

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Dwayne Johnson stars in a scene from the movie "Tooth Fairy."
Though it features scenes of former pro wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson sporting a pair of more-or-less gossamer wings, "Tooth Fairy" (Fox), a feeble fable about the importance of childhood imagination and the pursuit of dreams, never really takes flight.

Additionally, this mostly family-friendly comedy from director Michael Lembeck includes elements of violent sports action and mature dialogue that preclude endorsement for all.

Johnson plays Derek Thompson, a once-gifted professional hockey player now reduced to body-checking opponents for the enjoyment of sadistic minor league fans. Thanks to the dental damage that often results, Derek has earned the ironic nickname "The Tooth Fairy."

Derek's comedown in the world has left him disillusioned, leading him to discourage a youthful hockey enthusiast from dreaming of glory on the ice and to all but deny—in the presence of girlfriend Carly's (Ashley Judd) impressionable 5-year-old daughter, Tess (Destiny Grace Whitlock)—the very existence of the "real" tooth fairy.

For these offenses, Derek is supernaturally summoned to appear before Lily (Julie Andrews), the matriarch of Fairyland, and sentenced to two weeks of service as a collector of baby teeth. Though an initial mix-up sees him clothed in a tutu, Derek is eventually given a marginally more masculine outfit and assigned to the care of an officious but good-hearted pixie mentor named Tracy (Stephen Merchant).

His new secret mission not only complicates Derek's relationship with Carly, but endangers his macho standing among his teammates, including newcomer and rival Mick Donnelly, played by skateboarding star Ryan Sheckler.

Along with the scenes of bruising rink-top mayhem, the script—penned by no fewer than five screenwriters (Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel, Joshua Sternin, Jeffrey Ventimilia and Randi Mayem Singer)—incongruously mixes in an exchange between Derek and Carly's 14-year-old son, Randy (Chase Ellison), about the physical effects of puberty.

Though brief, vaguely worded and played for laughs—Derek's impression that Randy is looking for guidance is quickly disproved by the teen's evident discomfort with the topic—the discussion seems especially out of place in a tale supposedly dedicated to celebrating the innocence and wonder of little ones like Tess, and presumably aimed, in part at least, at an audience of her peers.

The film contains moderate hockey violence, some mild sexual references and brief scatological humor. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-II—adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.




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Junipero Serra: In 1776, when the American Revolution was beginning in the east, another part of the future United States was being born in California. That year a gray-robed Franciscan founded Mission San Juan Capistrano, now famous for its annually returning swallows. San Juan was the seventh of nine missions established under the direction of this indomitable Spaniard. 
<p>Born on Spain’s island of Mallorca, Serra entered the Franciscan Order, taking the name of St. Francis’ childlike companion, Brother Juniper. Until he was 35, he spent most of his time in the classroom—first as a student of theology and then as a professor. He also became famous for his preaching. Suddenly he gave it all up and followed the yearning that had begun years before when he heard about the missionary work of St. Francis Solanus in South America. Junipero’s desire was to convert native peoples in the New World. </p><p>Arriving by ship at Vera Cruz, Mexico, he and a companion walked the 250 miles to Mexico City. On the way Junipero’s left leg became infected by an insect bite and would remain a cross—sometimes life-threatening—for the rest of his life. For 18 years he worked in central Mexico and in the Baja Peninsula. He became president of the missions there. </p><p>Enter politics: the threat of a Russian invasion south from Alaska. Charles III of Spain ordered an expedition to beat Russia to the territory. So the last two <i>conquistadors</i>—one military, one spiritual—began their quest. José de Galvez persuaded Junipero to set out with him for present-day Monterey, California. The first mission founded after the 900-mile journey north was San Diego (1769). That year a shortage of food almost canceled the expedition. Vowing to stay with the local people, Junipero and another friar began a novena in preparation for St. Joseph’s day, March 19, the scheduled day of departure. On that day, the relief ship arrived. </p><p>Other missions followed: Monterey/Carmel (1770); San Antonio and San Gabriel (1771); San Luís Obispo (1772); San Francisco and San Juan Capistrano (1776); Santa Clara (1777); San Buenaventura (1782). Twelve more were founded after Serra’s death. </p><p>Junipero made the long trip to Mexico City to settle great differences with the military commander. He arrived at the point of death. The outcome was substantially what Junipero sought: the famous “Regulation” protecting the Indians and the missions. It was the basis for the first significant legislation in California, a “Bill of Rights” for Native Americans. </p><p>Because the Native Americans were living a nonhuman life from the Spanish point of view, the friars were made their legal guardians. The Native Americans were kept at the mission after Baptism lest they be corrupted in their former haunts—a move that has brought cries of “injustice” from some moderns. </p><p>Junipero’s missionary life was a long battle with cold and hunger, with unsympathetic military commanders and even with danger of death from non-Christian native peoples. Through it all his unquenchable zeal was fed by prayer each night, often from midnight till dawn. He baptized over 6,000 people and confirmed 5,000. His travels would have circled the globe. He brought the Native Americans not only the gift of faith but also a decent standard of living. He won their love, as witnessed especially by their grief at his death. He is buried at Mission San Carlo Borromeo, Carmel, and was beatified in 1988. Pope Francis canonized him in Washington, D.C., on September 23, 2015.</p> American Catholic Blog Hope and faith can outshine the darkness of evil. However dense the darkness may appear, our hope for the triumph of the light is stronger still. Though violence continues to stain us with blood, the shadows of death can be dissipated with one act of light.

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