Review by Michael Jacobson
Stars: Adam Sandler, Keri
Russell, Guy Pearce, Russell Brand, Richard Griffiths, Jonathan Pryce, Courteney
Cox, Lucy Lawless, Teresa Palmer
Director: Adam Shankman
Audio: DTS HD 5.1, Dolby Digital 2.0
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Walt Disney
Features: See Review
Length: 99 Minutes
Release Date: March 31, 2009
“It’s a bedtime story…ANYTHING can happen!”
Adam Sandler is basically a sweet guy. Yes, his movies frequently have him playing angry men who are maladjusted and lash out, bringing comedy to us and chaos to him, but that’s just an on-screen persona.
In fact, his basic sweetness makes him ideal to star in a Disney family comedy, and the fact that his fans are aware of this quality in him means nobody thought anything strange of him starring in Bedtime Stories, an imaginative little yarn with a pleasant spirit and offering fun to both adult and kid alike.
He plays Skeeter Bronson, who, as a kid, worked with his father (Pryce) at the family hotel, until hard times cause them to sell it to mogul Barry Nottingham (Griffiths). He makes a promise that Skeeter will one day run the hotel, but of late, he’s been relegated to resident handyman.
With the opening of a new hotel, however, Skeeter wonders if his chance might at last come, but it looks as though that duty will go to the unscrupulous Kendall (Pearce). But for now, Skeeter has his hands full when his sister (Cox) leaves him in charge of his niece and nephew for a week. He gets the night shift, while Jill (Russell), who thinks very little of Skeeter, takes the days.
Bedtime stories are part of the deal, but Skeeter has no use for his sister’s strange ideas for nocturnal reading (“The Organic Squirrel Gets a Bicycle Helmet”). Instead, he creates new tales from his imagination, using his own situation as a starting point, and soon tales of heroics and chivalry abound, with the children’s enthusiastic input.
But fairy tales are coming to life for Skeeter…in fact, every part of the story made up by his niece and nephew start happening to him in real life! Romance is in the air, and maybe even that elusive shot at running the new hotel when Nottingham puts him in competition with Kendall. Kendall doesn’t plan to lose, but with the help of his vacant but stalwart friend (Brand) and Jill’s increasing affection, anything is possible. Don’t forget…it’s Disney.
It’s a whimsical tale that doesn’t try and explain away its magic, and all for the better. Sandler shines as a fellow who has it in himself to be a hero, even if it takes the affection of two small kids to make him realize it. It’s light family fair, but quite endearing.
Bedtime Stories offers no weighty substance, but plenty of style, thanks to intricate CGI worlds where Skeeter’s stories come alive, and a wonderful cast of stars. But credit Adam Sandler…he knows when to go over the top, but mercifully, he knows when to show restraint, and here, he’s willing to step back a little and let the magic unfold around him.
He was a good choice for the role, and families everywhere will enjoy his sweet and subtle work in a kid friendly movie.
BONUS TRIVIA: As always in an Adam Sandler film, keep an eye out for a small appearance from Rob Schneider.
This is a beautiful, sunny Blu-ray release that offers plenty of eye-popping colors (the gumball rain is a must-see), and exquisite detail in both lighter and darker settings. The special effects sequences and vivid creations of the bedtime story worlds are first rate.
Despite being a family comedy, this DTS HD soundtrack offers plenty of dynamic range. Many of the ‘imaginary’ scenes are quite grand in scale, and some involve wild battles and action, which really deliver the goods from all stages of your sound system. Dialogue is well-balanced against the effects and music…a delightfully surprising job!
No commentary, but there are 12 deleted scenes, an outtake reel, a look at the special effects and a look at Bugsy, the bug-eyed guinea pig. There are two bonus discs: one for a digital copy of the movie, and one DVD copy for those who are close but haven’t made the plunge to Blu-ray just yet.
Bedtime Stories is a simple joy, and fans of Adam Sandler won’t be surprised at how terrific he can be in a family friendly movie. This is a beautiful looking Blu-ray offering that will please both kids and their parents.