Now Adam Sandler hasn’t exactly been in the most kid-friendly comedies (see his two previous movies You Don’t Mess with the Zohan and I now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry) but he did promise to make one movie his children can enjoy, and so he did. But Bedtime Stories will put anyone who is not under the age of twelve to sleep.
Skeeter (Adam Sandler) is a janitor at the Sunny Vista Nottingham Hotel. When he was little, his father Marty Bronson (Jonathan Pryce) sold his motel to Barry Nottingham (Richard Griffiths) who promises to make Marty’s son the manager Skeeter grows up and proves himself. Despite his janitorial status, Skeeter still dreams of becoming the hotel manager, but Nottingham announces a big, new hotel project and makes his son-in-law Kendall (Guy Pearce) the manager. But his life takes a turn for the better when he accepts a job from his sister Wendy (Courtney Cox) and babysits Wendy’s children Bobbi (Laura Ann Kesling) and Patrick (Jonathan Morgan Heit). When Skeeter tells the children bedtime stories, the stories magically reoccur in real life.
He then uses this newfound power to create his own happy endings in his life, showing to children everywhere that you don’t actually have to work hard or be smart to become successful.
Sandler plays his typical loser with a heart-of-gold and while he isn’t nearly as annoying as some of his other characters (once again, see Zohan), you can’t help but get the feeling that he is underacting throughout most of the film. Most of the relationships feel contrived and cheesy, especially the one between Skeeter and his love interest Jill (Keri Russell). The bedtime stories Skeeter tells aren’t particularly exciting or provocative and are written clumsily and shoddily.
The writing doesn’t take the film into any depth whatsoever, and many of the parts feel rather shallow and superficial. There is no empathy or excitement for any of the characters, save for a hilarious guinea pig named Bugsy, which says a lot about the film. The stories aren’t nearly developed or creative enough, unless you find raining gumballs funny.
But director Adam Shankman (Director of A Walk to Remember and Hairspray) sets a quick pace and the movie doesn’t drag in the least. It has some sort of charming, whimsical tone and spirit to it and truly feels like a bedtime story. It doesn’t completely fail as a comedy; some cheap laughs are delivered and small children will be entertained.
Bedtime Stories has neither the imagination nor the magic to be anything more than a mediocre (at best) family film. But you have to give Sandler some credit; he delivered what he promised: A friendly family movie that his kids can enjoy (somewhat).
Adam Shankman (director) / Matt Lopez, Tim Herlihy, Matt Lopez (screenplay)
CAST: Adam Sandler … Skeeter Bronson
Keri Russell … Jill
Guy Pearce … Kendall
Russell Brand … Mickey
Richard Griffiths … Barry Nottingham
Teresa Palmer … Violet Nottingham
Lucy Lawless … Aspen
Courteney Cox … Wendy