Perhaps it was a Sunday morning. Adam Sandler headed into his living room, only to find his children watching a copy of “Zohan” (arguably his worst movie ever) instead of cartoons. Realizing his “I’m a foreigner who likes to make sex with senior citizens” routine isn’t exactly the material children (or any member of the human race for that matter) should subject themselves to, he must have had an epiphany to make something more family friendly. The result is Disney’s “Bedtime Stories” and it’s complete with typical Sandler fart humor and lack of dramatic substance. At least we can be thankful that M. Night sat this evening tale out.
Skeeter Bronson is the typical Sandler character cliché – a janitor/maintenance man living in a room in the hotel he works in without any real shot at a sustaining career. Nor does he have any companionship with which he can share his days. Since everyone knows he never has anything to do outside of cleaning toilets and changing light bulbs, his sister Wendy (played by Courtney Cox with some awful looking plastic surgery facial reconstruction) offers him a shot at babysitting her two children for a week. Only he doesn’t know too much about them, as he hasn’t seen them in four years or so.
It’s safe to say that Wendy doesn’t know the Sandler we have watched over the years (or even the few minutes into this film) but leaving him alone with children is something the Department of Children and Families should be notified of. Lacking any real children experience, Skeeter is at a loss as to what to do with them. One of them finally makes the suggestion that a nice bedtime tale may do the trick to cure their boredom.
Skeeter spins some magical stories about knights and gladiators and cowboys (most of these characters also played by Sandler). His lack of experience in storytelling inspires the children to add their own input, thus giving these rather bland stories a touch of imaginative detail to them. Only Skeeter soon figures out that their little particulars actually end up happening in real life. The rest of the film unfolds in an unsurprising fashion.
Director Adam Shankman (last year’s “Hairspray”) doesn’t exactly keep Sandler from running free of screaming/annoyed loser routine. I’ve seen better special effects in Troma releases – films with a smaller budget than the amount spent on this film’s catering. The film does have one saving grace however, and that comes by way of Russell Brand (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”), who plays Skeeter’s only real friend Mickey. He steals every scene he is in, no matter how mundane or melodramatic. Too bad Guy Pearce who plays Kendall, the obvious villain, couldn’t do the same thing. His awful performance here will almost make you forget he was “Memento” and “L.A. Confidential”.
But the purpose of this movie is to entertain parents and children – the family set as a whole – during the holiday season. Will it make them laugh? Probably. Will some wiser adults out there want something with a little more substance? No doubt.