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Bedtime Stories (2008)

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 4/5/2009

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Video: 1/2
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/8/2009

I was an Adam Sandler fan when being an Adam Sandler fan wasn't cool. I can remember sitting in a theater which held only other attendee for a screening of Billy Madison in 1995, laughing hysterically at the audacity and weirdness of the movie. From there, I enjoyed all of Sandler's comedies up until 2004's 50 First Dates. After that, it appeared that Sandler felt that he could do no wrong and made movies which were too loose for their own good. He seemed more intent on casting himself as the hero and putting all of his buddies in movies, than making the small, but funny films which kicked off his film career. Given this, I dismissed Bedtime Stories as another lame comedy from Sandler. But, unfortunately, this one was aimed at kids. And the film's lame trailer didn't encourage my feelings. Still, actors can always redeem themselves and I decided to give Bedtime Stories a shot.

Sandler stars in Bedtime Stories as Skeeter Bronson. Skeeter and his sister, Wendy (Courteney Cox) grew up in the small motel owned by their late father (Jonathan Pryce). While Wendy was less than thrilled about living there, Skeeter loved the place, and when their father was forced to sell the property to Barry Nottingham (Richard Griffiths), the hotel magnate promises to give Skeeter a job. The story then jumps to the present, where we find that Skeeter did get that job -- he's the main handyman for the immense Nottingham Hotel. He gets no respect from the manager (Guy Pearce) or the front desk clerk (Lucy Lawless) and his only friend is a clueless waiter, Mickey (Russell Brand). Skeeter and Wendy have grown apart, but she calls him and asks if he can babysit her children while she goes out of town for a job interview, and he reluctantly agrees. He hasn't seen young Bobbi (Laura Ann Kesling) and Patrick (Jonathan Morgan Heit) in four years, and doesn't know how to relate to them, or their odd guinea pig, Bugsy. When asked for a bedtime story, Skeeter intertwines imaginary tales (concerning cowboys, knights, and gladiators), with the frustrations from his real life at the hotel. Much to his surprise, some of the things from the stories begin to come true. Once reluctant, Skeeter now relishes bedtime, convinced that he can use the stories to manipulate his own life.

At this point in time, calling an Adam Sandler movie weird is both an understatement and most likely a waste of time. But, Bedtime Stories is an oddity, as there are two movies happening here. On the one hand, the movie wants to be a traditional Adam Sandler comedy, and at times feels like his recent efforts, such as You Don't Mess with the Zohan. As with Sandler's last few films, he plays a character with whom the movie asks us to relate. But, at the same time, this person is often a jerk. I don't know about you, but identifying with a jerk is never fun. Skeeter wanders through the film insulting the other characters -- it's as if Sandler is in another movie. And, as usual, Sandler's group of usual suspects -- Allen Covert, Jonathan Loughran, and Nick Swardson -- have cameos.

Given all of this, Bedtime Stories doesn't sound as if it would even come close to being not only a good movie, but a good family movie. However, the other film happening here actually achieves that goal. While Sandler is off in Sandler-land, the parts of the film concerning Bobbi and Patrick and the bedtime stories is entertaining, humorous, and dare I say, charming. While Sandler's innate goofiness has been wildly mis-directed as of late, the silly and imaginative nature of the stories which Skeeter and the children create really carries the film. The stories hold a note of truth which will resonate with adults and the kids will love the way in which the children in the film take the stories in many different directions. The movie also get a significant boost from the presence of Russell Brand. It's very interesting to see the man from Forgetting Sarah Marshall tone things down for this family film. Of course, he still plays a very eccentric character, but he proves that he can be silly as well as shocking.

I went into Bedtime Stories expecting it to live up to its name -- I was fully prepared to go to sleep -- but I was pleasantly surprised by the film. It's not perfect, there are huge plotholes concerning whether or not the children and the stories do indeed have magical powers, and Sandler is grating at times, but if you can look past this, you'll find a fun film for the whole family.

Bedtime Stories offers an optically challenged guinea pig on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source materials. In addition, there's no overt noise here. The colors look very good, most notably bright colors, and the image is never too dark or bright. The picture provides an impressive level of detail and the depth between the foreground and background is very good. The Disc contains a DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.5 Mbps. The track provides clear audio and sound effects. While I love movies that I can watch with the kids, the audio is usually disappointing. Not here. The stereo effects are very detailed and do a good job of conveying off-screen action. The surround sound effects are notably impressive, especially during the story sequences. There are even a few moments of deep subwoofer action.

The Blu-ray Disc contains several extras. "Until Gravity Do Us Part" (4 minutes) examines how blue-screen was used to create the outer-space story. We see how the fight scene was created and how CG was used to fill the space. "To All the Little People" (5 minutes) profiles Jonathan Morgan Heit and Laura Ann Kesling, who play the kids in the film, and the adult actors discuss what it was like to work with them. There's a look at the guinea pigs used in the movie in "It's Bugsy" (4 minutes). But, this piece never talks about how CGI eyes were used for the creature. "Laughter is Contagious: Outtakes" is a 7 minute GAG REEL. The Disc contains 12 DELETED SCENES which run about 10 minutes. Most of these are simply scenes from the existing film with a few extra lines. There are some funny moments here.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long