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Bedtime Stories
Genre Family
Year: 2008

Bedtime Stories is where Disney and Happy Madison collide… which means that Adam Sandler’s “growing-up-in-the-’80s” crowd must have had children. This is a bold experiment between the two houses as Sandler tones his comedy down and Disney drops the singing/dancing, which makes the choice of Hairspray’s director-choreographer Adam Shankman questionable. Disney proved they could make fun of themselves with Enchanted, and now this new confidence has spawned a “Waterboy in Wonderland”. Sandler must have been influenced by the success of Click, his fantasy concept movie, as he punts into the PG-rated zone. Bedtime Stories features a great cast, and Sandler is supported by Keri Russell (Waitress), Guy Pearce (Memento), Richard Griffiths (The History Boys), Russell Brand (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Teresa Palmer (December Boys), Courteney Cox (Friends) and Bugsy, an animated guinea pig. Bugsy provides half the comic relief, while Sandler’s goof troop: Rob Schneider, Allen Covert and Nick Swardson fill in the blanks. Bedtime Stories is a concept film that mimics Click, except the kids have the “remote” now. The splurges of fantasy, chokes of comedy and safe family tone make it pleasant, but pleasant is residue from the ’50s.

This dysfunctional marriage of production houses is uncomfortable and numb. The result is something that feels sanitized and not Sandlerised. While Sandler’s comedy could do without the fart and groin jokes, it doesn’t have the same zest. Sandler can’t lose his temper, he can’t throw his toys and he can’t make outrageous comedy like he’s done so many times before. His audience has to settle for dumb and sweet humour for the sake of the kiddies. Bedtime Stories tries to bridge the demographic age gap with this elaborate mix, but finds itself in no-man’s land. The Disney charm and fantasy lacks the same whirlwind force as Enchanted, and the Happy Madison comedy romance lacks the ridiculous irreverence with a cherry on the top. The two forces seem to be pulling in opposite directions and instead of destruction, they settle for an indistinct and watered down family movie. Bedtime Stories is mindlessly entertaining and forgettable, and the only thing you’ll remember is the unholy alliance between Disney and Happy Madison.

Sandler’s tightrope act is the best thing that comes out of Bedtime Stories. His goofy cheer and reputation keep the plot rumbling along and the spot cameos add another dimension. The Adam Sandler/Keri Russell pairing don’t have a natural chemistry. While the other noteworthy cast members seem to be a little shell shocked, and don’t have much comic sparkle. Overall, it’s a predictable bit of fluff, and has nothing on Jumanji, The Spiderwick Chronicles and Enchanted. The kids might get a kick out of Bedtime Stories, but it’s mild to the point of oblivion. The trip is lighthearted, fun and sweet - so you won’t be appalled, although it’s just too plain without the flake.

The bottom line: Fluff.

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