Thursday, January 01, 2009

Bedtime Stories

Written By: Tim Herlihy & Matt Lopez

Directed By: Adam Shankman

Starring: Adam Sandler, Keri Russell, Guy Pearce

My rating: 6/10

It’s hard to believe that nobody thought of this before; Adam Sandler doing Disney movies. It makes perfect sense really. There’s something so over-the-top about Adam Sandler’s presence that children would easily enjoy him. He obviously likes the gimmicky comedy and he did well in his previous foray into what was kind of a children’s movie Click. The Sandler-Disney dynamic actually seems to work very well. Finally, he’s forced to make a film that’s not interrupted by very jarring Sandler wit. There is still the obligatory Rob Schneider cameo, but it is not allowed to destroy the flow of the film. Bedtime Stories is a straight up Disney movie. It’s big-budget, heart-warming, full of special effects and big characters.

Bedtime Stories tells the story of Skeeter (Adam Sandler), who works as a handyman in a hotel which, according to a promise made long ago to his father, he should now be running. He is looking after his sister’s (Courteney Cox) kids for a week and while telling them bedtime stories, the stories start to come to life. No scientific explanation necessary or, indeed, attempted. Skeeter uses this to help him overcome the snooty hotel manager (Guy Pearce), find love (with pretty teacher Keri Russell) and discover what’s truly important in life.

This film is very fun and full of the trademark Disney magic. It reminded me a lot of films like Jumanji or Night at the Museum but unfortunately it fails to provide the action-packed fun of those films. There are surprisingly few action sequences in the film. Each time a bedtime story is told, there’s a fun little fantasy in which Sandler becomes a cowboy or a chariot racer. These are really silly and ridiculous and fun. It’s nice to see Sandler’s humour used for kids. I think it really works and it’s just a pity that there aren’t enough of these sequences.

The supporting cast were pretty lacklustre. It seems Courteney Cox has had so much botox she can no longer speak properly or move her face. Russell Brand plays Skeeter’s wacky best friend. Reminiscent of Ricky Gervais’ forays into Hollywood, his performance feels awkward and contrived, an imitation of himself almost. Guy Pearce plays against type as the villainous hotel manager. He seems to have a lot of fun with it, all false tan and pink lip gloss, and it’s nice to see such a serious actor have a bit of fun. He even treats us to a song and dance number.

Bedtime Stories has a cute post-modern vibe but a very predictable plot. The Sandler-Disney team has potential though and his humour works in the context of a children’s film. It’s definitely just for kids, there’s not much here for grown ups but it’s the kind of big-hearted, magical film that are few and far between.

Charlene Lydon 28/12/2008

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