A script with a lot of decay, little wisdom

Dwayne Johnson as the new tooth fairy, getting instructions from his Fairy-land caseworker (Stephen Merchant) and the boss (Julie Andrews).

The Rock can't handle the tooth.

The former wrestler also known as Dwayne Johnson has a high-beam smile and a self-mocking style. These traits should serve him well in Tooth Fairy.

Sadly, in this forced fantasy about Derek, a cynical pro hockey bullyboy who tells his girlfriend's young daughter not to believe in the sprite who puts a buck under your pillow when you lose an incisor, The Rock is less tooth fairy than toothache.

On the ice, Derek is a spoiler who prides himself on knocking out the teeth of his opponents. Because of this, he spends most of the game in the penalty box. Off the ice, he is a bubble-burster who punctures the dreams of all youngsters, not only the daughter of his gal pal (Ashley Judd). Because of this, he spends most of the time in the doghouse. But he's about to do hard time in Fairyland.

Under his pillow (natch), Derek finds a summons from Lily (Julie Andrews), Fairyland's Thatcheresque prime minister. She cites him for reckless disillusionment and sentences him to Tooth Fairy detail, which is not unlike jury duty except that it requires wearing pastel satin.

The sight of the 6-foot-4 Johnson in a pink tutu, reminiscent of the hippos in toe shoes from Fantasia, is preposterous but not particularly funny. Likewise the countless puns and double-entendres about the he-man being a fairy. Here is a man whose triceps have triceps. How is decking him out as a ballerina any funnier?

What with Derek's swings between his day job in Macho-land and his after-hours sentence in Fairyland, the film seems positively bipolar. So does The Rock's character, who swings from castle-smasher to castle-builder - and who tramples through the film like the Jolly Green Giant on a field of sprouts.

Michael Lembeck directs with the subtlety of a sledgehammer, pounding every joke and cliche until they are flat, flat, flat.

It's hard to believe that two of the film's five (!!!!!) credited screenwriters are Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, whose scripts include such charmers as Splash, Night Shift, and A League of Their Own. Tooth Fairy is an almost charmless affair, made half-bearable by the patient grace of Julie Andrews and the wry humor of Stephen Merchant, as the Tooth Fairy instructor.

One of the tools Merchant's character gives Derek is a memory-erasing powder to sprinkle on kids who might see him in the act of collecting their teeth. I wish I had some of that powder to erase the memory of the film.

Contact movie critic Carrie Rickey at 215-854-5402 or crickey@phillynews.com. Read her blog, "Flickgrrl," at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/flickgrrl/

Tooth Fairy

Directed by Michael Lembeck. With Dwayne Johnson, Ashley Judd, Julie Andrews, Brandon T. Jackson, Billy Crystal. Distributed by 20th Century Fox.

Running time: 1 hours, 42 minutes.

Parent's guide: PG (for mild language, some rude humor and sports action).