A hotel handyman (Adam Sandler) discovers that the elaborate bedtime stories he tells his niece and nephew are starting to magically come true.
Adam Sandler, Kerri Russell, Guy Pearce, Courtney Cox, Russell Brand, Lucy Lawless, Teresa Palmer
An innocuous but haphazard family comedy that seems less crafted for children than dreamed up by a team of them, "Bedtime Stories" is energetic enough to occupy youngsters yet slipshod enough that their parents will wish that a few more adults had been around during filming. Instead, there is Adam Sandler, who brings his immature charms to the role of Skeeter Bronson, a handyman with dreams of running the posh L.A. hotel where he changes the light bulbs.
Saddled with his niece and nephew for a week, Skeeter loosens them up with a mix of social ineptitude, funny voices and a lack of regard for others that borders on the sociopathic.
Faced at bedtime with the unwelcome concept of reading the kids, ew, books, Skeeter instead makes up his own bedtime story, a tale of a medieval handyman who's allowed to compete for a chance to run the kingdom. The kingdom cheers wildly for "Sir Fixalot," and gumballs rain from the sky. The next day, Skeeter is shocked to learn that his hotel's owner (Richard Griffiths) is allowing him to compete for a chance to run the joint. Later, gumballs rain from the sky.
Instantly, of course, Skeeter is back with the kids, eagerly telling a bedtime story that rewards him with a Ferrari. When the rules of Skeeter's magical stories keep nonsensically changing, and when the screenwriters, Matt Lopez and Tim Herlihy, never bother to offer the most perfunctory of explanations for its magic, "Bedtime Stories" starts to feel awfully lazy.
The movie's genial tolerability is thanks mostly to Disney's willingness to spend scads of money on its family hits. Director Adam Shankman coordinates a first-rate effects team, and the film's visuals seem to have been imported straight from a kid's imagination onto the screen.
Best of all is Keri Russell, who plays Adam Sandler's love interest and who brightens the tart rhubarb pie of her performance in "Waitress" with just a pinch of Disney sweetness.
While there's a moral in "Bedtime Stories" about the power of storytelling to forge a bond between adult and child, it's trapped pretty deep under layers of Sandler-worship and computer-generated booger monsters.
-- Dan Kois (Dec. 25, 2008)
Contains mild rude humor and mild language.