Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Bedtime Stories

 

Review by Patrick Hodges

Just a warning:  this review may contain spoilers… that is, of course, unless you’ve actually SEEN a Disney movie before, in which case, you’re good to go.

You see a Disney family comedy, you expect the formula.  Hero/hero’s family is not doing well.  Something unexpected or magical happens.  Hero does a little better.  Magic continues.  Hero is on the verge of success/victory/vindication.  Tragedy strikes, hero seems to lose everything.  Last-second miracle occurs in whatever form, hero prevails.  Audience goes home all warm and fuzzy.  Bedtime Stories is not a departure from that formula, just the opposite.  Not only does it follow the formula, it actually draws a big red circle around it. 

Skeeter Bronson (Adam Sandler) started in the hotel business when he was a child, working for his father, who, unfortunately, had to sell his property when he fell upon hard times.  Fast-forward nearly three decades, and Skeeter is still working as the (now much more grandiose) hotel’s handyman, wistfully hoping for his shot at running the place.  However, tragedy strikes on two fronts; his sister Wendy (Courtney Cox) loses her job as a school principal when Skeeter’s boss (unbeknownst to him) buys the land Wendy’s school stands on, and he gets past over for promotion in favor of the current hotel’s sycophantic manager (Guy Pearce), who happens to be dating the boss’s very Paris Hilton-esque daughter.

While Wendy is out of town job-hunting, Skeeter must share babysitting duties of his niece and nephew with her good friend Jill (Keri Russell), getting the night shift.  Tucking them in, he tells them bedtime stories that, naturally, reflect his own life, but with a slightly happier (and more unusual) ending.  He is even more surprised when, the next day, the stories start to come true.   Naturally, he tries to parlay the stories into some personal gain:  free car, cash, hot girl, etc., not realizing that nothing is ever that simple, not even for Disney. 

The movie is like a playbook for “the formula”, and it follows it step-by-step.  Does that make it predictable?  Yes, but probably no more so than any other Disney family comedy.  Does it make it less enjoyable?  Not at all.  Sandler is more than capable of bringing his ebullient and boyish charm down to a PG rating, and parents will be glad to know that the scatological humor is kept to a bare minimum.  The effects are very good (though not spectacular), and none of the acting performances were bad.  (My particular favorite was Skeeter’s friend Mickey, who many will remember as the rock-star boyfriend from Forgetting Sarah Marshall.)  And yes, despite the Disney umbrella, there is the obligatory Rob Schneider cameo.  (Groan.)

All in all, a quite enjoyable ninety minutes of film.  Funny in more than enough places to make it recommendable, and whaddaya know, a happy ending.  (Oops, did I give it away?)

4 / 5 stars

 
 

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