Bedtime Stories DVD review

It's run of the mill Adam Sandler stuff, in an underwhelming family movie...

Bedtime Stories

I’ve been a fan of a few Adam Sandler movies over the years. Sure they’re formulaic, but there are some comedy gems (Happy Gilmore, The Waterboy) amongst some painfully unfunny and offensively bad movies (I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry, Mr. Deeds). It’s when Sandler breaks from the formula that I enjoy him the most. Punch Drunk Love is the best I’ve seen him to date and the upcoming, Judd Apatow movie, Funny People, looks great. With this being the first Happy Madison production that’s achieved a PG rating and it being distributed by Disney, I was expecting a break from the formula – I was wrong. For those of you that are familiar with Sandler’s previous works, there’ll be very few surprises, plot-wise, here.

The story opens with Jonathan Pryce’s Marty Bronson telling us of a hotel he ran in the 70s with the assistance of his two children, Skeeter and Wendy. It was a small family run business that, whilst being a hit with the customers, didn’t do great financially. Facing bankruptcy, Bronson was forced to sell the hotel to Barry Nottingham (played here by Tim Herilihy, later played by Richard Griffiths), but did so under the proviso that his son, Skeeter, would run the hotel when he was older.

Roll on 25 years and Skeeter (Adam Sandler) is kind of running the hotel – he’s the maintenance guy. Much has changed in 25 years. No longer is the hotel a small family run outfit, and it’s now an identi-kit, high end, high rise hotel. Germophobe, hotelier, Nottingham (Richard Griffiths) is announcing the development of a brand new, even larger, hotel is set to announce the appointment of the new manager. Still convinced that Nottingham will stick to the promise he made to his father 25 years earlier, Skeeter is sure that it’s his name that will be announced. However Nottingham chooses his son-in-law to be, Kendall (Guy Pearce), to take the reigns, destroying Skeeter’s dreams in the process.

Later, Skeeter attends the birthday party for his niece Bobbi (Laura Ann Kesling), whom he hasn’t seen in 4 years, and learns that his sister Wendy (Courney Cox) has to travel to Arizona for a job interview as the school she works at is facing being knocked down to make way for a new development (guess what it is!). She asks that he take the night shift looking after her two children, Bobbi and Patrick (Jonathan Morgan Heit), whilst her colleague, Jill (Keri Russell), takes the day shift.

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He agrees to this and sets out in looking after the children. He’s immediately faced with an obstacle in entertaining them – there’s no TV! With no TV, or seemingly any other way to entertain the kids, he’s forced to tell them a series of bedtime stories (hence the title) that seem to resemble his life. The children contribute and the stories start to come true.

On the surface, the idea isn’t an awful one. I mean these kinds of stories should give a filmmaker all kinds of scope to create wonderful and interesting set pieces. Sadly, that’s not the case here. Various themes – Medieval, Wild West, Sci-Fi etc – are all wasted. It’s a shame, as these are clearly the selling point of the movie (and where a lot of the budget seemed to go) and it leaves the, not very interesting, plot about the hotel development as the highlight.

As for the cast, when a couple of kids (Laura Ann Kesling and Jonathan Morgan Heit) and a guinea pig (or fat mouse) with computer-generated eyes demonstrate more charm and ability than an experienced cast, it’s not a good sign.

Sandler has played a variation of this character so many times, you’d expect him to have nailed it by now. It seems forced and a little irritating here. Maybe he felt restricted by the PG rating, but many comedy performers have managed to perform admirably in such films over the years. Richard Griffiths, Courtney Cox and Guy Peace’s performances come across dull and lazy, which pretty much mirrors the feel of the movie. I was surprised to see Russell Brand here. I’m not sure that he and his idiot savant characters are suited to these kinds of movies.

I appreciate that neither myself, nor the readers of this site are the target demographic for this movie. However, there were a few laughs in the movie, but ultimately it isn’t good enough as a comedy or as a kid’s film. There are much better Sandler movies and there are much better children’s movies to spend your money on.

Extras Slim pickings here. There are the usual deleted scenes – clearly deleted for a reason and a number of outtakes with people fluffing lines and larking about. There are also a series of short documentaries focussing on such subjects as: the guinea pig, the child actors and the zero gravity fight scene. And if all that wasn’t enough, you get a couple of irritating children, and their equally irritating mother, talking about the benefits of Blu-ray.

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Film:

2 stars
Disc:
2 stars

Rating:

1 out of 5