Bedtime stories are great for kids, and good ones can be fun for adults, but Adam Sandler’s new film Bedtime Stories offers little for either.
Sandler had nowhere to go but up after the summer disaster that was You Don't Mess with the Zohan, and this is certainly a far more enjoyable film, but that isn’t saying much as Zohan is sure to appear on many “Worst of 2008” lists. Bedtime Stories isn’t a bad film, and there is enough (barely) to keep young children entertained, but the writing is far too forced and predictable for adults, and when the stories come to life, they lack the energy and visual impressiveness that we know Disney is capable of.
While babysitting his niece Bobbi (Laura Ann Kesling) and nephew Patrick (Jonathan Morgan Heit), hotel handyman Skeeter (Sandler) realizes that any addition by the kids to the bedtime stories he is crafting for them, actually come true the next day. Skeeter attempts to use this new power to finally get the job he has always wanted. Unfortunately the writing Bedtime Stories breaks down as attempts to justify the additions to the next day’s developments are forced upon the audience with little success.
Sandler manages to give us enough of his standard character to make Skeeter endearing without alienating the young Disney audience, and he is surrounded by a talented but underutilized cast, but there is little range for them to show with the script provided. Keri Russell plays the convenient and obvious love interest. Russell Brand is the comedic sidekick whose reason for being in the film is only less clear than that of the kids’ pet guinea pig Bugsy (Rodent), who possesses digitally enhanced Marty Feldman eyes, and seems to add nothing to the film other than to give kids something to laugh at, like someone making faces at a baby. Courtney Cox, who looks unhealthily thin, plays a Monica-esque sister to Skeeter and Guy Pearce is the stiff antagonist.
So the concept and cast are good, but the execution seems to have been too much for screenwriter Matt Lopez and director Adam Shankman. Perhaps putting more effort into making the visualization of the stories cinematically attractive, and providing the cast with characters that posses some dimension, and less time trying to figure out how to justify the ridiculous plot points thrown in by the children, would have made for an all-around more enjoyable film for the entire family.
Recommendation: This has DVD rental written all over it. There is nothing here for adults, and the visual effects are not worthy of a “see it on the big screen” endorsement.