Fans of Adam Sandler were no doubt shocked by his latest acting job. Not that his previous effort of an ex-military hairdresser was any less strange, but Sandler’s turn to the children’s genre with Disney’s Bedtime Stories certainly turned heads more than it would have with any other comedian on board. Despite poor reviews, the film did wonders at the box office, which isn’t a total surprise seeing as it was a Christmas Day opener and eventually went on to gross over $200 million worldwide. While critics may not have enjoyed it, it’s clear that the movie going audience certainly found enough to enjoy in this unique twist on the average children’s story.
Funnyman Adam Sandler stars in Walt Disney Pictures’ Bedtime Stories, the magical family comedy that’s packed with adventure and lots of heart. When Skeeter Bronson (Sandler) babysits his sister’s (Courteney Cox) children, his imagination runs wild as he dreams up elaborate bedtime stories always casting himself as the hero. Entranced, the children add their own ideas to these once-upon-a-time tales of heroics and chivalry. Then magic happens. These nighttime fantasies become Skeeter’s daytime realities, leading him on a real-life adventure in search of his own happy ending. Filled with colorful characters, humor and whimsy, this heartwarming comedy will enchant your entire family again and again.
My reception of Bedtime Stories was similar to Fred Clause: it’s a children’s story with too much of a well-known (and occasionally vulgar) comic that there’s a little too much of an adult overhead to the entire story to really dignify itself as a pure family film. Still, there’s little to object to, mind you, but there were some jokes in Bedtime Stories that would fly over the youngling’s heads anyway, so I guess it’s not a major concern. Still, there are times when the film feels like it is trying to appease too wide of an age group that it either becomes too slow for children to enjoy or too absurd for adults to enjoy.
And really that’s where the film ends up being a bit of a downer. It splits its ideas into too many directions, when it should have just focused more on the story telling element. For it being the big pull (and, in effect, looking something akin to Night at the Museum) of the story, there really was just too little of it. On top of that the film starts the “fictional becoming true!” angle easy at first, with a plausible-but-entirely-coincidental outcome; afterwards it just gets into the ridiculous territory. Again, children’s film, yes, but it’s such a jarring jump that the film quickly leaves reality, despite trying to ground itself so thoroughly.
Still, the bedtime story elements are nice, if a little poorly done visually. Some of the effects (the space ones in particular) are very, very cheesy looking and are way hokier than I would have expected from a big film like this; but I guess Disney was just testing the waters and judging by the success of this film, I can see a sequel coming along at some time. As odd as it sounds, the pairing of Adam Sandler and Keri Russell was quite strong, as they made a believable couple with all of the love/hate back and forth’s going on throughout it. A bit contrived sometimes, sure, but hey…children’s movie!
What was rather strange was the “villains” of the film, played by Guy Pierce (!?) and Lucy Lawless. Exactly how Pierce ended up doing a film like this I’m not sure, because he plays the most stereotypical jerk-villain and Lucy Lawless may as well been a random actress, as she rarely speaks in the film and you can barely recognize that it’s her anyway. Still, they are entertaining, but unless you’re up on your 90s-actors-who-aren’t-doing-much-now trivia, then you may very well not even recognize them to begin with. I will say that Russell Brand was hilarious, as always, though. I swear he reminds me of Ricky Gervais in how popular and how he’s slowly creeping into more and more films.
Really I was more bored with the film than really disappointed by it; it’s certainly got its moments, but between all of the healthy/environmental talk that was shoved down your throat, it got to be a bit much at times. I guess that’s the new thing to teach kids today, which his slightly irksome (not that I’m against environment or anything…go green and all that, but I don’t need it infesting my movies), simply because I see it everywhere now.
In any case, Bedtime Stories is worth a Rental at the very least and Recommended if you have young ones about. Plus, Sandler is always good for a few laughs anyway.
Yet another one of Disney’s tri-disc Blu-ray releases, in which only one disc is a Blu-ray and the other two are DVDs. So here we get a Blu-ray copy, a DVD copy, and a Digital Copy of the film, which is a tad bit overkill but with Disney’s Blu-ray first, DVD later release schedule, it will bring in a few newcomers to the format at least. Inside the package (which is a single width release, rather than the double width found on Bolt and the like) are the three discs as well as inserts advertising the format and another insert with a code for digital copy redemption and Disney Rewards (which is now the same code for both). Menus are simple and easy to navigate.
The AVC encoded transfer is pretty spectacular looking from beginning to end and the colors definitely pop off the screen. Black levels are strong as well and…well; it’s just a great looking film. I didn’t have any real qualms with the transfer other than that it made the poor CGI even worse at times, but still it’s a nice transfer all around. The audio is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix and is really quite subdued; the storybook sequences are fantastic sounding, as are a few of the more action-packed “real life” sequences, but for the most part you’ll just be getting front and center channel action. Also included are French and Spanish DD5.1 as well as English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles.
Extras are really just made up of a bunch of fluff pieces, but they’re all in 1080p, so they have that going for it at least. Oddly enough all of these extras are repeated on the DVD included in the set…which makes me wonder why they didn’t just make it a two-disc set and shove the digital copy on with the DVD…but whatever. I guess DVDs are so cheap to print now it doesn’t really make much of a difference. Extras start off with Until Gravity Do Us Part (4:00), a quick piece on the special effects in the film. To All the Little People (5:24) and It’s Bugsy (3:42) talk about the characters in the film, while a relatively unfunny Laughter is Contagious: Outtakes (6:48) and small collection of Deleted Scenes (10:24) wrap up the set. No commentary or anything, but…really, this film can’t have had much go into it that was all that unique, so I doubt anyone would really want to spend another ninety-nine minutes on that.
Overall Bedtime Stories is still worth a Rental or perhaps worth owning if, again, you have children around.
Bedtime Stories is now available on Blu-ray and arrives on DVD on April 7th.