When I first heard about Bedtime Stories, it sounded like a disaster. You take Adam Sandler, the bane of parents everywhere for delivering inappropriate and idiotic humor to their children, and put him in a PG-rated Disney flick, thus circumcising away what makes him so popular among his fan base: I smell mega-flop. But with a Christmas-time release date and some imagination, Bedtime Stories turned into a surprise hit, and deservedly so.
Adam Shankman has a knack for taking adult-oriented actors and making successful children's comedies out of them. While I'm not a fan of Bringing Down the House, The Pacifier or Cheaper by the Dozen 2, the director has a talent for turning the likes of Steve Martin and Vin Diesel into children's actors. Still, it was hard to imagine that Sandler's fan base would accept him in a kid's flick, or that parents would want to take their children to something featuring him. Nevertheless, Shankman has made the impossible possible; Bedtime Stories is funny, entertaining and utterly harmless, exactly what a Disney comedy should be.
The movie is about a hotel repairman named Skeeter who has just gotten his shot to become the manager of a new, ritzy hotel. Complementing this opportunity is the chance to win over the beautiful daughter of his boss (Teresa Palmer) and steal her - and the job - away from his arch rival, Kendall (Guy Pearce). Complicating matters, though, is that his sister (Courtney Cox) has asked him to care for his two nephews with the help of a neighbor (Keri Russell). Every night, he ends up telling them a bedtime story - and begins to realize that whatever story he tells them comes true.
Sandler's form of humor is prevalent throughout the picture, which is a good thing for his fans. Though his jokes are filtered for a Disney audience, he himself never seems subdued; Sandler has adapted appropriately to the script at hand. In fact, when you think about it, many of Sandler's movies, if done with a PG rating in mind, could work as is; his stories usually deal with a dumb, goofy guy going up against some unlikable villain and winning out in the end. Bedtime Stories is no different, except that there are wide-eyed guinea pigs, scenes with Sandler galloping through the Old West, flying through space or saving princesses, and some other Disney-esque moments.
The movie isn't perfect. The guinea pig, for one, is a bit cheesy, and Bedtime Stories has a few moments that fall flat. Nevertheless, many of these moments will appeal to children, and that, after all is, the point. Thankfully, older audiences will be able to look past these "flaws," if you can call them that, and appreciate Bedtime Stories for what it is: a lighthearted, harmless comedy. This is by no means the best Sandler film, nor is it outrageously funny, but it has enough to appeal to any audience. There were several moments that had me cracking up, and others that were cute enough.
The only real disappointment is that the advertising was a little misleading as to how much the bedtime stories actually come to life. Parents expecting lots of imaginative fantasy scenes may be a little disappointed, and the movie isn't as over the top as I was hoping for.
Bedtime Stories is a fun little movie with enough laughs to satisfy children, parents and non-parents alike. It is a kid's movie, so Sandler fans should keep that in mind, but Bedtime Stories is worth a viewing.
The movie arrives on DVD and Blu-Ray on April 7, though special features are pretty lacking. Despite a three-disc set that includes the DVD, Blu-Ray and digital copy, there are only a couple of special features included, such as bloopers, deleted scenes, a behind-the-scenes featurette and a look at the guinea pig Bugsy. Why this movie didn't get the normal Backstage Disney treatment is a little surprising, though I imagine that Disney is planning a special edition to come out in December.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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