FILM REVIEW: Bedtime Stories

PG • 98 mins • 26 December

Director: Adam Shankman

Starring: Adam Sandler, Keri Russell, Guy Pearce, Teresa Palmer, Courteney Cox

Rating:

We suspect that few self-respecting
SFX readers will voluntarily go to
a Christmas family comedy starring
Adam Sandler and a CGI guinea pig.
And frankly, you’d be right to stay
away. However, if you are forced to
attend, then at least Bedtime Stories
is tolerable, and occasionally fun –
when it forgets to be dumb.

Sandler plays Skeeter, a
handyman working at the hotel his
dad once owned. His sister
(Courteney Cox) asks him to babysit
her kids, and Skeeter ends up telling
them rambling stories – fairytales,
cowboy and Indians, Gladiator epics,
space adventures – reflecting his sad
situation. Lo and behold, Skeeter’s
stories start to be reflected in his
daily life, in mischievous and
unpredictable ways (there’s one very
neat bit involving a rain of gumballs).
Can Skeeter work out the rules of
the bedtime tales before they lead
him to a sticky end?

There’s modest amusement from
the supporting cast, including
Richard Griffiths as a hotel magnate
with Howard Hughes-style phobias
about germs, and Russell Brand –
he’s only okay but his mere presence
in a Disney family comedy feels like
a funny-peculiar joke. Keri Russell
acquits herself well as Skeeter’s
reluctant squeeze, in a film that
often descends into lowbrow pap
but occasionally fires off some smart
Charlie Kaufmanesque points about
the nature of storytelling. Sandler
himself… well, he’s just Sandler, and
his best moment is probably when
he has to make a sales pitch with a
bee-stung tongue.

As for the bug-eyed guinea pig, it
makes you long for the chipmunk
from Enchanted. Mind you, maybe it
should be spliced into the opening
frames of every single copy of
Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of
The Crystal Skull. That’d teach film
nerds to moan ad nauseam about
one slightly dodgy-looking gopher…

Andrew Osmond