This holiday season a familiar comedy star tries to finagle his way into the family comedy genre in Disney’s Bedtime Stories.
Hotel maintenance man Skeeter Bronson always had his hands in the hotel business thanks to the guidance of his father Marty, played by Jonathan Pryce (Evita, Pirates of the Caribbean).
Skeeter grew into a whimsical, dedicated worker while his imaginative dreams took a back seat to adulthood responsibilities.
Skeeter grew up with several duties along with his sister Wendy, played by Courtney Cox (TV’s Friends), who’s now a school principal fighting to save her school.
When Wendy has Skeeter watch her two children, his adventures, only limited by his imagination, come back to life in bedtime stories that seem to come true in real life.
Explanations appear as the story progresses, but the movie seems to gravitate towards this common theme – If you look for goodness/adventure in life, you will find it.
This approach allows Skeeter to handle situations differently and positively as he gives up personal control while trying to look for life’s cues from the stories.
Skeeter’s best way to provide entertainment for the kids is making up bedtime stories after passing on Wendy’s recommended books like “The Organic Squirrel Gets a Bike Helmet”.
Wendy’s co-worker Jill, a teacher played by Keri Russell (Mission Impossible III, Waitress) also factors in as she picks up the kids every morning for this week-long adventure.
Both women are very believable in their roles and improved the dramatic aspects of the screenplay written by Disney mainstay screenwriter Matt Lopez who teams up with Sandler mainstay Tim Herlihy.
Skeeter’s time with his niece and nephew, along with their wide-eyed guinea pig named Bugsy, conveniently aligns with Skeeter’s big chance to share his hotel ideas with the germophobic owner Barry Nottingham, played by Richard Griffiths (Harry Potter).
Nottingham’s daughter Violet, played by rising Australian star Teresa Palmer, pokes fun at Paris Hilton while Guy Pearce (Traitor, L.A. Confidential) plays the hapless bad guy and an almost unrecognizable Lucy Lawless (TV’s Xenia: Warrior Princess) try to stop Skeeter at every turn.
Adam Sandler uses less physical comedy in his routine as the dialogue heavy scenes call for supporting comedy from Skeeter’s co-worker Mickey, played by British comedian Russell Brand (Forgetting Sarah Marshall).
Even Sandler’s constant co-stars Rob Schneider (Waterboy) and Allen Covert (Anger Management) also get in the act. Buzz Lightyear also makes an appearance.
Filmmakers ramp up the stunts (you can easily tell it’s not Sandler) and special effects so the proceedings entertain in the fantasy realm and aren’t too after school special sappy.
Director Adam Shankman (Hairspray, The Pacifier) creates appealing visuals with great lighting and cinematography in nearly every shot.
Each character’s traits line up with ending resolutions and it is entertaining to see how the stories play out in real life.
The story clogs a bit with some formulaic elements and needed more finesse to be a blockbuster best seller, entertains well overall while even leaving the story open for a sequel.
This fantasy comedy comes recommended with a few reservations (**1/2 out of four stars) and rated PG for mild language and some crude humor.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler