Adam Sandler, Keri Russell, Guy Pearce, Courteney Cox, Russell Brand, Richard Griffiths, Teresa Palmer, Lucy Lawless, Laura Ann Kesling, Jonathan Morgan Heit
Matt Lopez (and story), Tim Herlihy
Every day is a new adventure.
Funnyman Adam Sandler stars in Walt Disney Pictures' Bedtime Stories, the magical family comedy that's packed with adventure and lots of heart. When Skeeter Bronson (Sandler) babysits his sister's (Courteney Cox) children, his imagination runs wild as he dreams up elaborate bedtime stories always casting himself as the hero. Entranced, the children add their own ideas to these once-upon-a-time tales of heroics and chivalry. Then ... magic happens. These nighttime fantasies become Skeeter's daytime realities, leading him on a real-life adventure in search of his own happy ending. Filled with colorful characters, humor and whimsy, this heartwarming comedy will enchant your entire family again and again.
$27.450 million on 3681 screens.
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Runtime: 99 min.
Release Date: 4/7/2009
• “Until Gravity Do Us Part” Featurette
• “To All the Little People” Featurette
• “It’s Bugsy” Featurette
• “Laughter Is Contagious” Outtakes
• “Cutting Room Floor” Deleted Scenes
• “Dylan and Cole Sprouse: Blu-Ray Is Suite!” Featurette
• Digital Copy
• Sneak Peeks
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Bedtime Stories: Deluxe Edition (2008)
Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 10, 2009)
Some of the usual box office heroes hit snarls during the holiday 2008 season. Jim Carrey, Will Smith and Adam Sandler regularly top the ticket sales charts, but each one came up a bit short with their late 2008 releases. Oh, none of them tanked, but each disappointed, as their studios expected more from their high profile efforts.
Did these films deserve better? In the case of Smith’s moving Seven Pounds, I’d say yes. However, I’d vote no when it comes to Carrey’s lame and witless Yes Man.
That leaves Sandler’s Bedtime Stories as the final flick in the Box Office Disappointment trilogy. Another “high concept” effort like Yes Man, Sandler plays Skeeter Bronson, a hotel maintenance man who hopes to get a promotion to general manager. This doesn’t look promising until he takes on a nighttime babysitting gig for his sister (Courteney Cox). While she heads out of town to pursue a new job, Skeeter cares for young Bobbi (Laura Ann Kesling) and Patrick (Jonathan Morgan Heit).
When Skeeter tells the kids a bedtime story, he sees its events soon become true – in a fashion. Convinced that his nighttime tales can work magic, Skeeter attempts to positively influence his life via this method. This means lots of bedtime stories with the kids and lots of crazy antics that result.
When I reviewed Yes Man, I picked on its basic concept as I thought the movie suffered from an idiotic, illogical premise. In the case of Stories, however, I like the film’s underlying idea. Sure, it’s actually less plausible than Yes Man; while Stories creates real-world explanations for everything that happens, the fact that the events echo the tales indicates some form of magic at work.
Yes Man offers no supernatural elements, so someone could execute its idea. That person would be an idiot, however, and that side of things harms the film. Stories takes a fantastic premise and runs with it to show what an average person would do when given access to magical powers, and I like that idea.
I also like the fact that Skeeter immediately embraces the story’s conceit. In movies of this sort, characters usually are absolutely unwilling to accept the supernatural despite all the evidence to the contrary. Not Skeeter – he’s on board with the magic from minute one. That’s actually pretty illogical, of course, but it’s such a refreshing change from the usual stubborn refusal to accept the fantastic that I like it.
Unfortunately, too much of the rest of Stories follows a well-worn Disney path. Honestly, there’s almost nothing about the tale that stands out as unusual in terms of characters and their arcs. The movie doesn’t worry about logic or common sense in a lot of ways, and it throws out a lot of predictable elements. Seriously, the second that Skeeter meets Jill (Keri Russell) and they hate each other, does anyone doubt that they’ll fall in love?
Actually, I suppose some parts of the audience won’t see that coming, as Stories clearly aims for a pretty young demographic. Most Sandler movies shoot for more of a teen crowd, but Stories comes across as something intended for the nine and under set.
That means some of it seems a bit awkward. The filmmakers offer some concessions to adults along the way, so those elements don’t join terribly well with the more kiddie-oriented stuff. The latter side rules, as this is a pretty broad flick, and the nods toward adults feel like they’re from some different movie.
Indeed, a lot of the performers act like they’re in different movies. Sandler essentially plays the same kind of man-child role he often does, though he tones down the idiot side of things. After all, we have to accept Skeeter as a credible nominee for hotel general manager, so he can’t be a buffoon. Sandler does pretty well with the part, as he adds some humor to a fairly forgettable role.
As for the rest, they’re a mishmash of styles. Cox and Russell play things straight, while Russell Brand – as Skeeter’s co-worker and best friend – basically does a less profane version of his usual shtick. As the villain, Guy Pearce comes straight out of community theater. He’s so broad that he becomes a distraction. Yes, I understand that he’s supposed to be the mustache-twirling baddie, and the film’s framework does allow for cartoony work. Nonetheless, Pearce shows little flair for comedy, and his performance fails to mesh well with the rest of the movie.
All of this leaves Bedtime Stories as a fairly so-so movie. It does some things well but feels like it came from a factory at times. I like the premise and think it produces a few laughs, but it remains mediocre much of the time.
The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus C-
Bedtime Stories appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Overall, the transfer satisfied.
My only complaint connected to sharpness. Most shots appeared solid, but wide images could come across as somewhat soft and ill-defined. Though these weren’t terribly fuzzy, they created a few distractions. No signs of jaggies or moiré effects popped up, and edge enhancement stayed minimal. Source flaws also failed to materialize.
With its fantastic tale, Stories boasted a bright, candy-colored palette much of the time. The hues looked excellent, as the film took good advantage of them and delivered dynamic colors. Blacks were dark and firm, and shadows looked smooth and concise. Really, only the occasional softness made me lower my grade to a “B”; the rest of the transfer worked well.
I also found satisfactory audio from the film’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, though it seemed a bit less ambitious than I expected. Stories came with a lot of action/fantasy sequences, and those didn’t open up the spectrum as well as I anticipated. Oh, they did okay in that regard, especially during the film’s third act; in particular, the science-fiction sequence showed nice range.
However, other scenes just weren’t all that engaging. For instance, the gumball shower focused on the front speakers and didn’t use the surrounds well even though that sequence seemed like one suited for five-channel material. I thought the track created a good sense of place and action; I just didn’t feel it was as involving as it should’ve been.
No issues with audio quality emerged. Speech was always concise and crisp, and music showed nice range. The score provided good punch and filled out the track well. Effects sounded tight and vivid, especially during the louder action-oriented scenes. This was a perfectly competent soundtrack.
Despite the movie’s high profile, it comes with a lackluster set of extras. We start with some featurettes. Until Gravity Do Us Part goes for three minutes, 59 seconds and includes notes from visual effects supervisor John Andrew Berton, Jr. and fight choreographer Garrett Warren. They cover the execution of the film’s big science-fiction sequence. Despite the featurette’s brevity, it proves to be tight and informative. It packs a lot of good info into its short running time.
During the five-minute and 23-second To All the Little People, we hear from director Adam Shankman and actors Laura Ann Kesling, Adam Sandler, Courteney Cox, Keri Russell, Russell Brand and Jonathan Morgan Heit. “People” looks at the film’s lead child actors. Essentially we learn how cute and fun they are. A few decent shots from the set appear, but don’t expect much.
For info about the movie’s guinea pig, we go to It’s Bugsy. This one lasts three minutes, 40 seconds and includes Kesling, Heit, Cox, actor Teresa Palmer, and animal coordinator Steve Berens. This acts as an animal version of “Little People”: it throws out a few minor facts but mostly offers a fluffy look at its cute subject. Yawn!
Next comes a gag reel. Laughter Is Contagious goes for six minutes, 47 seconds and shows the usual mistakes and goofing around on the set. With Sandler and other comics involved, one might expect more improv laughs ala Jim Carrey’s outtakes, but for the most part, this is an ordinary collection of mistakes and giggles.
Under Cutting Room Floor, we get 12 deleted scenes. These fill a total of 10 minutes, 49 seconds. Almost all of these extend existing sequences that don’t move along the plot. We do get an alternate version of the “Broadway Musical” pitch, and “Magic Of Course” sets up the supernatural premise a little earlier. Nothing great appears here, but you’ll find a few laughs.
Dylan and Cole Sprouse: Blu-Ray Is Suite! runs five minutes, 56 seconds. Here the Disney channel stars and their TV mom Kim Rhodes do their best to sell us on Blu-Ray. Yes, it’s just an ad – and a really tacky one at that.
A few ads open the DVD. We get clips for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Monsters, Inc., Blu-Ray Discs, Disney Movie Rewards, and G-Force. These also appear in the Sneak Peeks realm along with promos for Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, Morning Light, Disney XD, Princess Protection Program and Hatching Pete/Dadnapped. No trailer for Stories appears here.
Finally, Disc Two provides a Digital Copy of Stories. This allows you to copy the movie onto your computer or portable viewing device. If that excites you, great! It doesn’t do anything for me.
As a family comedy, Bedtime Stories has its moments, but don’t expect greatness. The movie features an uneven mix of hits and misses that satisfies to a moderate degree but never quite catches fire. The DVD provides good picture and audio but skimps on meaningful extras. This is decent family fare.
Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars|| Number of Votes: 6|