Hey, cool job, Adam Sandler. We all knew you wanted this change. You got it, man. A really amusing, lotsa laughs, imaginative movie for any age. And just shrug off all the national critics on this; they’re missing the point.
“Bedtime Stories’ is just plain fun. It’s not credible at all, but, well . . . The important thing is that most, but not all, of its gags are well formed, well timed and well delivered. The characters are gamey and colorful, easily identified for boos and hisses, and the fantasies are, hey, cute and charming. The mix of real and digital effects is sane and sober, costuming for all the different time periods is a real grabber, and the music score is cannily laid in, strong but not ostentatious.
The characters are all played energetically, especially the charismatically adorable Keri Russell, and British comedian Russell Brand as the hotel waiter. The two kids, Laura Ann Kesling and Jonathan Morgan Heit, are terrific. Even the kids’ little trained guinea pig pet is all go.
Skeeter Bronson (Adam Sandler) is a maintenance man at a motel once owned by his father 30 years ago, who had let it fail and had to sell it to a greedy developer (Tim Herlihy). Now it’s an upscale highrise.
Skeeter’s long-ago little-boy fantasy imagination has lain dormant over the decades. Soon, however, it may resurface. His situation now, other than constantly coveting the owner’s party-girl daughter Violet (Teresa Palmer) and getting solace from his buddy Mickey (Russell Brand), a hotel waiter, is going to change.
It happens that his on-edge divorced sister Wendy (Courteney Cox), just dismissed as a school principal, has to go out of town to a job interview for a few days. She’d been caring for her schoolteacher friend Jill’s (Keri Russell) two young children, Bobbi and Patrick.
Their favorite thing in life is bedtime stories. So Skeeter, discovering a talent he didn’t even know he had, begins making up lively fairy tales with himself as a hero, like about medieval adventure, the Old West, ancient Rome and space epics. The kids, however, don’t usually like his story endings so they edit them.
Trouble is, the yarns start to come true. This leads Skeeter to believe that he has a chance to change his own destiny and replace the current hotel general manager. So Skeeter’s task is to steer the stories to endings that will benefit him. But now the kids start insisting on putting in their own story directions. And some of them don’t lead to happy endings.
Other than some minor flaws, like the weak follow-ups on some gaglines, Russell Brand at times coming on too strongly and, of course, the excessive abandonment of logic, this film is a welcome try by Adam Sandler at giving us a smile and then some in these all-too-real times.
“Bedtime Stories” (quality rating: 7 out of 10)
Director: Adam Shankman
Screenplay: Matt Lopez, Tim Herlihy
Cast: Adam Sandler, Courtney Cox, Keri Russell
Time: 1 hr., 39 min.
Rating: PG (mild vulgarity, some crude humor)