- Directed by Adam Shankman
- December 25, 2008
A hotel handyman’s bedtime stories to his niece and nephew keep coming true.
Adam Sandler in the Disney film? Color me intrigued!
Bedtime Stories is as family friendly as you will ever see Adam Sandler get and truthfully it’s rather family friendly yet very entertaining. It’s a sweet story about family and love and finding what really matters. And it is all wrapped up in a fanciful premise.
First of all the casting. I’m not sure who is all involved in the casting of this or Adam Sandler’s other movies but he gets people in films with him that you would not necessarily expect to be in a film with him. Some actors can do that on the regular and Sandler just happens to be one of them. We have Lucy Lawless as Aspen and Guy Pearce as the duplicitous Kendall Duncan and Jonathan Pryce as Martin “Marty” Bronson. I’m not saying they’re highly respected actors but an Adam Sandler comedy does not strike me as something they would go for yet here we are.
Lawless and Pearce are our chief villains as well as the focus of most of Skeeter’s (Sandler) barbs. And they are great comedic villains. For people not necessarily known for comedy they more than held their own with Sandler on the screen.
The gimmick in Bedtime Stories is that Skeeter must watch his niece Bobbi (Laura Ann Kesling) and nephew Patrick (Jonathan Morgan Heit) who barely know him because four years prior he struck their father at a family event. In order to get them to go to sleep he tells them stories and those stories come true in unexpected ways. Not word for word true but the events in real life certainly parallel the events in the stories he tells. Soon though his stories finally get his employer to fulfill a long forgotten promise by giving him a chance to run a new hotel. His storytelling skills come from his father who it’s implied left him a bit of a dreamer with those stories.
Sandler is, well, Adam Sandler in this as he is in just bad every other movie. He’s goofy and charming and just an average guy who could be happy rich or poor. I say Adam Sandler plays Adam Sandler in every movie because stories about oddly average stuff always comes out about him and those tend to be the characters he plays. Not always but often.
Hotel magnate and Sandler’s boss Barry Nottingham is played Richard Griffiths. Despite his background, Griffiths had a real gift for comedy. Did you see The Naked Gun 2 ½? There as here he was just great. Griffiths also had roles in the Harry Potter films, Chariots of Fire, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Gandhi, Sleepy Hollow, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and Hugo and he did great in all. Such range is pure talent. Here he is a clear Howard Hughes parallel taken to a ridiculous realm.
And what would an Adam Sandler movie be without a female semi-nemesis that that eventually comes to fall for him. More often than not that’s what happens and that’s not too different from a lot of movies. Here it is Keri Russell as Jill who works at the same school as Skeeter’s sister Wendy (Courtney Cox) that unbeknownst to Skeeter is being closed down because of the hotel that’s being put up there by his boss.
What gets me is the area of the school appears very residential. I’m not sure what would attract anyone to build a hotel in suburbia. There is some beachfront property that is mentioned as the original choice but that was shot down by the city. So the beachfront was a no go but a school in suburbia was? I know this is a rather silly comedy but the deeper you look the worse it gets in one of the McGuffins that gets it all going.
Many of the usual Adam Sandler costars such as Rob Schneider, Nick Swardson, Blake Clark, and Jonathan Loughran show up here. And that’s generally when the movie really shines the best. Sandler has a group of people he likes working with and it’s clear he’s just having fun when they show up. The legendary Allen Covert shows up here as the one-off Ferrari Guy and I thought it then and I think it now that he looks a lot like a young David Lee Roth. I really thought it WAS David Lee Roth when I first saw this movie but the voice didn’t quite match.
The jokes come pretty steady in Bedtime Stories as does the general silliness. This is a romantic family friendly comedy that doesn’t talk down to the audience but keeps things safe enough that everybody can watch. And strangely enough by the end of it all you’ll feel kind of good. There’s a nice message about family and that success doesn’t always equal money.
My major complaint is that the fantasy scenes are done in a way that looks cheap. It’s been a few years since this movie came out but then as now they did not look good. Yes they are fantasies but when we daydream out daydreams do not look bad. They look great! The fantasy scenes look like they were done in a bargain basement fashion. Maybe that’s the point but I think they should’ve been crafted more dreamlike and less cheap.
Despite that gripe Bedtime Stories is an entertaining and rare Adam Sandler family-oriented comedy. You will find plenty to be amused by and even some good laughs. This is definitely worth watching!