Skeeter Bronson (Adam Sandler) works as a handyman at a hotel once owned by his father (Jonathan Pryce), but now run by Barry Nottingham (Richard Griffiths). When his uptight, divorced sister Wendy (Courteney Cox) goes out of town for four days, she asks Skeeter to help her schoolteacher friend Jill (Keri Russell) look after her two young children Bobbi (Laura Ann Kesling) and Patrick (Jonathan Morgan Heit). But when the bedtime stories he tells the children begin to come true, Skeeter starts to believe he has a chance to change his destiny and replace Kendall (Guy Pearce) as hotel General Manager and future husband to Barry's spoilt daughter Violet (Teresa Palmer).
Review by Louise Keller:
If you like Adam Sandler's loud and bawdy style (or lack of it), you will warm to this lively and undemanding fable that reminds us we are limited only by our imagination. Raining gumballs, galloping on a cherry-red steed, a kiss from a fair maiden and driving in an ancient Greek chariot race are some of the ingredients incorporated into the bedtime stories Sandler's Skeeter tells his young niece and nephew at night, which magically eventuate into his real life. The premise is fine as all the central characters find their way into the stories and the bizarre becomes unexpectedly plausible. It's funny and fresh, and Sandler is nicely contrasted by the lovely and feminine Keri Russell (notable in Waitress) who brings warmth and heart to the proceedings.
Director Adam Shankman's biggest questionable decision is to portray Richard Griffiths' hotel owner Barry Nottingham and his heir apparent Kendall (Guy Pearce) as caricatures. It works well enough in the case of Griffiths, but this is not a role that suits the talented Pearce, as he hams it up like a vaudeville boo-hiss villain and unfortunately comes out second best. The two eight year old youngsters (Laura Ann Kesling and Jonathan Morgan Heit) are as delightful as they are natural, and it is their impulsive and instinctive re-writing of elements from the nightly storytelling that becomes integral to the plot and story outcome. Russell Brand, who made his acting debut in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, injects his own brand of humour and charisma as Mickey, the room-service waiter with sleep panic disorder and Australian actress Teresa Palmer is impressive as the spoilt-little-rich-girl daughter, engaged to the ambitious Kendall. Youngsters will enjoy the laughs generated by the saucer-eyed guinea pig Bugsy, who tags along with Skeeter and his charges everywhere.
Anything can happen in a story, Heit's Patrick tells Skeeter when he starts to recount a fantasy involving a medieval castle, a king, his daughter and a mermaid. But each story involves elements that connect to Skeeter's own life. And as Skeeter tries to steer the stories to include endings of his choosing, Bobbi and Patrick insist on their own input, with clear thoughts of their own as to whether or not stories can have a happy ending. Don't look for too much realism, but the scene in which Sandler's tongue swells up (after being bitten by a bee) and he gets Brand (wearing a hula skirt and coconut halves) to translate his nonsensical attempts at speech at a formal presentation, is wonderfully ridiculous. There is never any doubt that all will end well - after all, this is a bedtime story, and Sandler, who recently became a father for the first time, reportedly was keen to make a comedy that was family friendly.
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BEDTIME STORIES (G)
CAST: Adam Sandler, Keri Russell, Russell Brand, Guy Pearce, Jonathan Pryce, Courteney Cox, Teresa Palmer
PRODUCER: Jack Giarraputo, Andrew Gunn, Adam Sandler
DIRECTOR: Adam Shankman
SCRIPT: Matt Lopez, Tim Herlihy
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Michael Barrett
EDITOR: Tom Costain, Michael Tronick
MUSIC: Rupert Gregson-Williams
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Linda DeScenna
RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Walt Disney
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 26, 2008