Disney // 2008 // 99 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // April 13th, 2009
Believe in happy endings.
This goofy union between Walt Disney and Adam Sandler yields mixed results but -- you know what's coming -- the kids will probably like it.
Adam Sandler (I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry) stars as Skeeter Bronson, the son of a former motel owner who has grown up to be an underachieving maintenance man. Fate intervenes in his dopey life when his sister asks him to baby-sit her kids and Skeeter gets the chance to reconnect with his niece and nephew. As he regales them with bedtime stories, he discovers that whatever the kids add to the stories comes true the next day.
Why, that's positively crazy! Skeeter tries to spin this miracle to his advantage and land a coveted manager job of a brand new super-hotel. To do that, he'll have to outsmart his arch-nemesis (Guy Pearce), woo the love interest (Keri Russell) and do some other stuff I can't quite recall.
There are two kinds of kids-oriented family movies: 1) those that grown-ups genuinely enjoy and 2) those that grown-ups have to put on their brave face and take a bullet for their children because the movie they're watching is a brain-stabber. Bedtime Stories isn't necessarily an affront to humanity, but it's far from great and will likely fall into category two for most adult viewers.
It started out pleasant enough, featuring a nice narration, that sweeping kidsy syrupy score and a funny introduction of Adam Sandler's character. Alas, everything degenerates fairly quickly into tired formula. There's the hard-luck good guy, the obvious potential girlfriend, the slimy bad guy, the slimy bad-guy's slimy sidekick and, of course, a zany CGI-rendered guinea pig or hamster or something. Formula can work though, but the script that all this is draped on lacks consistent wit; there are some sporadic laughs but the hit/miss ratio for the gags is too spread out.
What's most disappointing is the use of the bedtime story gimmick. As Skeeter runs through the evenings' tales, the film shifts to the real-time re-enactment with Sandler engaged in visual effects-soaked adventures in the Old West, outer space, ancient Greece and your standard-issue fantasyland. These sequences are bombastic and zapped with sensory overload and not very engaging. A lot of stuff is going on but spectacle can only take you so far. How these tales translate into the real world turns out to be clunky and awkward: a random breakout of the Hokey-Pokey? No thanks.
All that being said, there's a solid chance the kiddos will like it. You may quickly grow bored of Adam Sandler making faces and battling an interstellar booger monster, but that sure sounds like the ingredients for giggling rugrats, huh?
The Blu-ray looks and sounds great. Transferred in a clean 2.35:1 HD widescreen, the picture quality is crisp from start to finish and the detailing is precise, exactly what you'd expect from top-tier Blu releases. The color work especially shines and this is a colorful movie. As unfulfilling as those effects-laden story sequences may have been, they look half a loaf of awesome in high-def. Sound is clean and loud thanks to an active 5.1 DTS-HD mix. Extras: bloopers and deleted scenes, a disposable featurettes on Bugsy the Big-Eyed Guinea Pig (acchh) and behind-the-scenes look at the visual effects. Two more discs accompany, a digital copy, and a DVD version of the film.
Mediocrity is thy name, Bedtime Stories, but parents could do a whole lot worse than rent this fluffy diversion for their kids.
Not guilty, but I'm doing this for the children.
Review content copyright © 2009 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Deleted Scenes
* DVD copy
* Digital Copy
* Clip: Trailer
* Clip: Camping Out
* Clip: Bloopers
* Clip: Adam Entertains