Movie Valley
January 2010 Movie Reviews
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Tooth Fairy
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Ashley Judd, Julie Andrews, Chase Ellison, Stephen Merchant
Directed By: Michael Lembeck
Run Time: 1 hr 42 mins

Tooth Fairy is about a hockey player who is nicknamed "The Tooth Fairy" because his trademark move is to knock out his opponents' teeth. When he tells his girlfriend's daughter that there is no Tooth Fairy, he gets a magical court order to be a tooth fairy.

I love children's movies. I understand them. I appreciate them. They're entertaining. Most of the ones people (critics) say are bad, aren't. This one, sadly, was just plain bad. It was not entertaining. Now, for those of you who think it can be attributed to Dwayne Johnson's acting, you're wrong. He did his best to be entertaining. He did what he could with the script. He tried his darndest to make flat lines funny. They just weren't. I saw what he was trying to do. I give him props for that. Julie Andrews did as well as she could, too. Billy Crystal, however, phoned it in. But since he had five minutes of screen time, he, too, wasn't responsible for making this movie suck.

I laughed once - and just once - during this movie. There wasn't even a happy smile on my face (which would happen if the movie were cute and enjoyable, bordering on funny). I didn't even sit there with a polite smile on my face (which I tend to do if I can see where the movie is trying). It wasn't groan-inducingly bad (which is its own brand of fun right there). It just sat there.

There were so many parts of this story that just didn't work. I don't think the writer even tried. For starters... did they cast Dwayne Johnson and THEN name his character? Because I find it hard to believe there was a coincidence between a character named Derrick Thompson and an actor named Dwayne Johnson. It's that level of "creativity" that leads me to believe the character was named after and the writer wasn't even trying. I suppose I should be grateful that the character wasn't named Duane (an alternate spelling of the actor's name). Actually, that would have been funny.... I sooo should be a screenplay writer.

Continuing on with the lame story... why wasn't Derrick allowed to remember that he was a tooth fairy after his sentenced had been served? Seems to me that he needed to remember his time served in order to help him stay a better person. And I wasn't quite certain how his tooth fairy "training" was supposed to help him with his duties. And I'm not sure why his case worker Tracy (played by Merchant) didn't have wings. Yes, they did explain why, but if a human could grow wings, why couldn't he? He seemed to be the only one without them. If no one was supposed to know that Derrick was serving time as the tooth fairy, then why did he always get his assignments during game time (where there were thousands of people he had to avoid) or other waking hours? Why did the teeth have to be fetched as soon as the child fell asleep? Why couldn't it have been around 3am when the child - and everyone else in the house - was sure to be sound asleep?

Anyway... this is not a good movie. It's not a redeeming movie at all as its message is incredibly weak. It's not even a movie that wins out in the end. Not funny. Not entertaining. The ONLY thing that's interesting in this whole movie is that Dwayne Johnson's enormous tribal tattoo that spreads from his chest across his shoulders was makeupped out - it's gone! It was interesting to see him without it. Not sure why they felt he needed to be tattooless, but he is. And it was weird. Oh, and the other interesting thing (well, sortof in a mean way) is seeing Ashley Judd for the first time in a long time (when was her last movie???). Wow. She has not aged well. I'm sure she still weighs less than I do but since she's definitely not a twig anymore, she looked HUGE. But don't go see the movie for that. Or any other reason. Bad movie. Bad, bad movie.

The Lovely Bones
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Rachel Weisz, Mark Wahlberg, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci
Directed By: Peter Jackson
Run Time: 2 hrs 19 mins

The Lovely Bones is about a teenage girl in the 70s who is murdered and then her soul gets trapped between Earth and Heaven until either her murderer gets caught or her family comes to terms with her death.

You know even before the movie starts that Susie Salmon (played by Ronan) is going to be murdered. You also know who is going to kill her even before it happens. That part is never disclosed, however, due to the creepy, pedophile-y voice, you know he's the guy. And you know the minute Susie encounters Mr. Harvey in the field that the end is pretty close. This movie is incredibly suspenseful, considering you know the who from the beginning of the movie. It's also very sad.

I'm not sure I understand this movie. Susie is trapped in limbo. I'm pretty sure that if you get murdered, you should not have to endure Limbo. You should have a non-stop flight straight to Heaven. I do sorta understand that she's trapped there until either her murderer gets caught or her family deals with her death. But once she herself lets her family go, lets them deal with her death on their own instead of trying to connect with them, that she then earned her passage to Heaven. But she didn't. I don't think there really was a justifiable reason she got to leave Limbo (sorry to spoil anything with that).

This movie is a bit frustrating. I didn't understand why there wasn't actual justice. Poetic justice, yes, but no legal justice. The movie gets to the point where the killer could be caught and then everyone just lets it go. I understand the family was trying to piece themselves back together and by letting that part drop, they could finally reconnect... but then by letting that part drop, they were leaving the door open for the murderer to kill another child. He had to be stopped, family moment or no family moment. I actually said out loud, "you can't be serious" during the movie towards the end when it became clear there was going to be no legal justice (I normally keep that stuff inside but I was sooo frustrated I actually couldn't contain myself). And don't think I'm giving away anything when I say "no legal justice" because this movie is more about a family's spiritual connection rather than a crime-thriller. I loved that Buckley saw Susie and his drawing he did for/of her. So sweet.

One thing to note - Susan Sarandon does not look like a grandmother (I know that's the point but I'm pretty sure she is one in real life, too). I'm pretty sure that face is all natural (no work done). So beautiful. I just kept looking at her and thinking, "Wow. She looks fabulous - not great, but FABULOUS - for her age."

A love Stanley Tucci. That is why I go to his movies and it is why I went to this one. But did he really have to do that creepy pedophile voice? *I* wouldn't have even gone down in that cave with him. It wasn't cool. It was creepy. Creepy little dollhouse maker. Ugh. I hope he wins for Supporting Actor. I just want to say "Tucci" when he wins.

It is a suspenseful movie, given all that you know when you walk into the theater. It's suspenseful.... and slow. Really slow. There's a lot of time before Susie is murdered. Sadly, you wait for that to happen and when it does, you're shocked. They don't show the murder (thank goodness) but the scene afterwards is so powerful. I knew it was coming but I was so sad. The rest of the movie - searching for her killer - is a bit tedious. The real story is the connection her family has with her, to each other. That's the good part of the movie. The annoying part is the main part of the movie. It's not a great movie - but it's not bad, either. It's tough. And I'm still annoyed with the concept that a murdered child goes to Limbo. There's no justice even in the afterlife!

Blind Side
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Quinton Aaron, Lily Collins, Ray McKinnon
Directed By: John Lee Hancock
Run Time: 2 hrs

Blind Side is a true story about a homeless African-American teenager who is taken in by a wealthy white family in Tennessee. They teach him how to play football. He does well.

I sat through this movie with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face, pretty much through the whole thing. It's incredibly sweet. Michael (played by Aaron) is a good guy. I liked how there was not one bad bone in his body. He was sweet and kind, which was refreshing. He didn't want to hurt anyone, despite his size, so playing football (tackling people) was tough for him. He was never angry. He was definitely Ferdinand the bull (and I liked that they made that reference in the movie). Of course, when you see how truly sweet Michael is, it's annoying and frustrating to think that no one ever bothered to help him prior to this. If he had a rough exterior (a scowl on his face), it would be one thing - to have to get past that scary growl in order to see the teddy bear inside. Yes, he was a big guy but that alone should not have been too much for people to see past. But along that note, the help he did receive from the Tuohys (Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw) seemed like no big deal. They were helping a good kid. Not a troubled kid. Not a scary kid. A good, sweet, kind kid.

I kept waiting for the twist - the bad moment where either the family turns on Michael (most likely from a misunderstanding ala Three's Company) or where Michael turns on the family (again, most likely from a misunderstanding ala Edward Scissorhands where he tries to help SJ but ends up hurting him). Everyone gets along here. EVERYONE. Even the teenage daughter likes Michael (as a brother). There are no fights - with the siblings with Michael or the parents or with the kids at school. Yes, there is one little bad moment but everyone is very understanding - and that bad moment turns out to be something really sweet, too. I'm glad the twist never happened (not to spoil anything here). But then again, with no twist, no bad moment, no misunderstanding, no fight, nothing, it makes for a very sweet and sappy movie (which again makes me wonder why no one helped Michael prior to his 17th year).

This is a well acted movie, however, I'm not sure Sandra Bullock deserves all the wins she's been receiving for her portrayal of Leigh Anne Tuohy. Tuohy is a nice woman. She does a nice thing. She's sweet herself. All very much in league with Bullock herself (or so I think most people would believe). I don't think it was a stretch for her to play this character. There's not much drama. She's very understanding when things happen and very subtle (yet strong) when clearing a path for Michael (telling off her friends, teaching Michael how to play football, even getting her husband to agree to Michael moving in with them). I do have to wonder if Quinton Aaron (who plays Michael) is as big of a teddy bear as his character. Such sad, sweet eyes.

Good movie. Not much happens. Everyone gets along. Nice change of pace.

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnasses
Starring: Heath Ledger (and Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Farrell), Christopher Plummer, Lily Cole, Andrew Garfield, Verne Troyer
Directed By: Terry Gilliam
Run Time: 2 hrs 2 mins

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnasses is about Dr. Parnasses (played by Plummer) and his traveling theater troupe who seek to lure audience members behind stage, to step into a magical mirror, and experience (or become victims) of their own imagination. When the troupe stumbles upon a man (played by Ledger) hanging from a bridge, they rescue him, only to discover he doesn't remember who he is or how/why he ended up hanged. He helps market the troupe, enhances their performance with better costumes and stage, and gets more people to see the show. He seems like a great addition... until parts of his former life begin to be revealed.

This is Heath Ledger's last movie. He died while filming it. In order to fill the gaps, three other actors (Depp, Law, and Farrell) volunteered to step in and help finish the movie. When I heard this, I couldn't help but wonder how they were going to pull this off since the three look nothing like Ledger. I assumed it would be like Brandon Lee in The Crow where the actors would be cast in shadow so that you couldn't see their faces (so you couldn't tell it was someone different). That did not happen in this movie. No, you saw each of the three new actors full on. And it worked. Each of three actors portrayed a different persona after Tony (Ledger's character) went into the mirror and experienced an alternate world. That part was good. The rest of the movie...

I was intrigued and annoyed by the first five minutes of the movie. First of all, it toyed with what year/era the movie was set in by showing the horse drawn carriage. At first, you're led to believe that this took place in the 1800s... but, surprise, it's modern day times. The Parnasses troupe was just a bit behind the times in technology (possibly because they were so poor at attracting audiences, and therefore making money). And the show they put on. What were they trying to do? What was their lure? There was a catch... but what? Were they good or bad? But then the show the troupe put on was so incredibly bad that it bothered me. Why would anyone want to see this show? And the fact that they parked outside a nightclub. Did they not think they'd get heckled by drunks? And almost rightly so (normally I wouldn't agree with heckling because an artist is really trying, despite what the audience thinks, but the troupe's performance was painfully bad that I almost heckled myself). I didn't see what the troupe - the show - was trying to accomplish. And then it all went downhill from there. I didn't understand the drunk guy's test (or any of the tests that unfolded after someone went into the mirror) - climb a mountain or go to a club? Huh. No brainer. Even *I* who likes to climb stairs would have chosen a drink over that steep climb. But then... I never really saw the point of anyone's test. A few of the bad choices were obvious but the right, good choice was never obvious, or even somewhat enticing. I could see how Parnasses only got a few souls.

The rest of the movie was convoluted, uninteresting, discombobulated, and rather boring. I almost walked out. I was very confident that I wouldn't miss anything if I didn't watch all of the movie. There have been a few other movies where I've contemplated leaving but I was always sure I'd miss something - even just the wrap up - and was always sure the ending would redeem the movie (which it often does). The ending for this movie is a bit of a wrap up (it provides closure to the characters) but I wouldn't have missed anything had I not stayed for it.

Ugh. I can't stress it enough. This movie was baaaaad. It wasn't interesting and it certainly wasn't imaginative. I'm still wondering how a movie entitled "Imaginarium" can be so devoid of imagination. More like "Craptarium." Stay away. Stay far away. The blending of four actors into one is done well. Nothing else does. The blending of four actors into one makes sense. Nothing else does.