There have been plenty of movies set in Detroit over the years, and even Grand Rapids was spotlighted (albeit in an unflattering way) in director Paul Schrader's "Hardcore" 30 years ago. So when will Lansing get its turn? You'll have to wait — until Friday.
That's when Michigan's capitol serves as the backdrop for, of all things, "Tooth Fairy," a comic fantasy starring Dwayne Johnson (a.k.a. The Artist Formerly Known As The Rock) in the title role. Johnson plays Derek Thompson, a once-notorious hockey star whose take-no-prisoners style on the ice earned him the nickname "The Tooth Fairy." But the past decade has brought him both bad luck and a badly wounded shoulder, so now he has to play for the Lansing Ice Wolves. Yes, that would be Lansing's pro hockey team. So far as I can tell, the Ice Wolf is a character in Inuit legends with absolutely nothing to do with Michigan, but at least the Ice Wolves' logo and merchandise look passably convincing.
So how else does Lansing figure into the film? To be honest, it really doesn't. About 10 minutes into the story, after he almost tells the 6-year-old daughter of his girlfriend, Carly (Ashley Judd), there is no such thing as the Tooth Fairy, Derek is summoned to ToothFairyLand — you think I'm making this up, but I'm not — and supreme tooth fairy Lily (Julie Andrews) sentences him to serve as a tooth fairy to make amends for his bad behavior. (I shudder to think that I just used the phrase "tooth fairy" four times in one sentence.)
From then on out, there are only a few scattered references to Lansing. Carly's adolescent son attends Lansing Middle School, for instance, and there's a jail scene in which police officers wear Lansing emblems on their uniforms. Although no one says so directly, the movie insinuates Lansing is a place from which to escape: Derek's hot-shot rival sneers that Lansing is merely his first stop on the road to the big-time.
Those who know the local restaurant scene may be amused by the highly visible banners for California Pizza Kitchen that are prominently placed in the Ice Wolves' rink. Isn't the closest CPK location in Novi, almost an hour outside of Lansing?
Although the film continues Hollywood's long (and sadly misguided) tradition of displaying Michigan license plates on both the front and rear bumpers of cars, for my money the biggest laugh came when Derek flies over Lansing at night and sees a veritable diamond field of bright lights below him; why, it looks almost like Vancouver, which, in fact, is where the movie was shot.
Since "Tooth Fairy" does not open for a couple more days, I won't say much more about it, except to mention that the younger you are, the more likely you are to enjoy it. And if you think you're going to see anything that looks like Lansing up there on the big screen — well, I've got Ice Wolves season tickets you can have at a really reasonable price...