While Adam Sandler's "You Can't Mess With the Zohan" had some surprisingly funny moments, "Bedtime Stories", which sees Sandler tries to aim for the single-digit target audience, did not initially seem too promising. The picture stars Sandler as Skeeter, a man whose father (Jonathan Pryce, no less) ran a popular local hotel in Los Angeles - at least until being bought out by a tycoon who put up a massive 5* property on the site of the former hotel.
However, at least one element of the former hotel still exists in the new property - Skeeter. As an adult, he works at the new hotel as the handyman. In the midst of having the hotel move to a bigger and grander location, Skeeter's sister (Courtney Cox) asks him to look after her kids (Laura Ann Kesling and Jonathan Morgan Heit) while she's gone.
The kids want to hear a bedtime story before heading off to sleep for the first night (we see each of the stories - everything from medieval to sci-fi, with plenty of effects sequences in most of them) and Skeeter offers up a good one. So good, in fact, that the story comes true the next day. After a few rounds telling the stories, Skeeter notices that it's no accident - his stories are coming true, and he decides to try and make the magic work in his favor.
Meanwhile, Skeeter tries to gain the attention of the hotel owner's Paris Hilton-like daughter (Teresa Palmer) and finds out that the school where his sister and her kids go just happens to be - get this - scheduled to be demolished so that the hotel where Skeeter works can move to a larger location. There's also a romantic interest in Jill (Keri Russell), another teacher at the school who's helping Skeeter look after his sister's kids.
The picture sees Sandler comfortably fitting into his role as the adult that acts more childish than the children. Although there are some decent one-liners this time around (and - as another positive - I'm surprised there wasn't more bathroom humor then there is), Sandler's treading over the same ground in a different character. Still, he's surrounded by a decent supporting cast, including Cox and - in a thankless (but still appealing) performance, Keri Russell. Guy Pierce and Russell Brand head over-the-top as the evil hotel manager and Skeeter's pal. There's also a guinea pig with giant eyes, which I think is supposed to be funny by the mere sight of it, but it doesn't get a laugh the first time or several times later.
"Bedtime Stories" is about as predictable as it gets (one wonders what someone else could have done with the general story idea), and Sandler coasts in a performance he's done countless times before. Still, flaws aside, the movie manages enough decent performances and mild laughs to make it a passable time-waster, and the fact that the Big Emotional Moments and lessons aren't presented in an overly sentimental, heavy-handed way also helps matters. It's certainly no "Princess Bride", but it could have been worse.
This is a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack - the Blu-Ray is the first disc in the set and a DVD version (for those who only have DVD, but also want the Blu-Ray in case they get a Blu-Ray player down the road) is the second disc.
VIDEO: "Bedtime Stories" is presented by Disney in 2.40:1 (1080p/AVC). Presentation quality is enjoyable, but falls somewhat short of the best that the format has to offer. Sharpness and detail are somewhat inconsistent; while most of the film looked crisp, bright and well-defined, some scenes did appear mildly softer. A few scenes throughout the film also showed some noticeable edge enhancement, as well. The film's vibrant color palette nearly pops off the screen, appearing well-saturated and never smeary. Black level remained solid, and flesh tones looked natural.
SOUND: The film is presented by Disney in DTS-HD 5.1. Although there are some scattered instances of surround use during the fantasy sequences, most of the audio is spread across the front soundstage. Audio quality is just fine, as dialogue remains crisp and well-recorded, while the score sounded clear and full.
EXTRAS: There's a short featurette on Bugsy (the guinea pig), a quick featurette on working with the child actors and a featurette on an effects scene late in the movie. We also get bloopers and 11 deleted scenes. The extras are presented in HD. A digital copy of the film for PC's or portable devices is included on the third disc. The title is also BD-Live enabled. I'm surprised there's no commentary included.
Final Thoughts: "Bedtime Stories" doesn't really explore the story idea as well as one might hope, but the picture has enough going for it to make for a mildly enjoyable way to pass an afternoon. The Blu-Ray edition boasts a few minor extras, as well as fine audio/video quality. Rent it.
The Film C+