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Bedtime Stories

Adam Sandler in Bedtime Stories

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 1.5 out of 5

HAIRSPRAY aside, Adam Shankman’s directorial CV is one to forget given that it includes the horrid likes of Bringing Down The House, Cheaper By The Dozen 2 and Vin Diesel stinker, The Pacifier. Bedtime Stories can now be added to that list too.

Produced by Disney and co-starring Adam Sandler and Russell Brand (among many others), it’s a dim-witted excuse for family entertainment that’s hopelessly infantile and, overall, pretty pointless.

Skeeter Bronson (Sandler) is a hotel handyman who dreams of one day running the establishment that his father was forced to relinquish when he was a child. Asked to babysit his sister’s children for a week of nights, he reluctantly agrees to do so but then suddenly finds his fortunes changing when the bedtime stories he tells them magically start to come true.

Much like the recent Inkheart, Shankman’s film is designed to emphasise the importance of books as well as the power of imagination – but it lacks any real magic or imagination of its own.

The humour is distinctly low-brow, and the characters lazily drawn and hammily performed. Sandler looks content to trot out a family-friendly version of his usual cinema persona and ensures that the obligatory cameos from his usual cohorts (including Rob Schneider) are dropped in for good measure.

While a strong support cast is uniformly wasted. Richard Griffiths is just plain irritating as a Howard Hughes-style businessman with hygiene issues, Guy Pearce embarrassingly OTT as a rival prospective hotel manager and Keri Russell goes through the motions as the obvious love interest. Brand, meanwhile, looks uncomfortable playing things safe and his presence feels just plain wrong in a Disney movie!

Shankman, meanwhile, even manages to get the movie’s set pieces wrong, with the numerous flights of fantasy – involving cowboys, spacemen and gladiators – poorly conceived and clearly derivative of far better movies (Star Wars among them).

The tone is also all over the place, mixing pantomime style pratfalls designed for the really young with more edgy humour that’s presumably aimed at older viewers. It’s best to close the book on this one as these Bedtime Stories really are the stuff of nightmares.

Certificate: PG
Running time: 98mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release:April 27, 2009