Bedtime Stories
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Bedtime Stories

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Fantasy if infused in all of us at the most intrinsic human level. Culturally this need is manifested with mythology and legends passed down through the ages, on a more personal level our first exposure to the realm of make-believe is usually with the bed time stories our parents told us just before we entered that other world of the fantastic; our dreams. Some parent may stick to well established fairy tales or reading from children’s books while others will directly engage the imagination of the child developing story lands and characters of their own. Movies have always endeavored to reflect this freedom of expression but have been hindered by the limitations of reality. That is until recently. The advances made in computer generated graphics the state of the art is now if you can imagine it you can depict in on the screen. While this is an incredible thing that opens up the innate human need for storytelling to previously unimaginable heights but such technological marvels cannot replace the necessity of a strong underlying tale and well crafted presentation. One recent example of this is ‘Bedtime Stories’ staring Adam Sandler. It is all CGI sizzle with little more than a bite of actual steak. I had hoped that this kind of film would provide the proper platform for the child-like antics that Sandler used to build his career. This film had a lot of potential but unfortunately misses hitting the target with an audience. It is far too silly for the youngest members of the family and lack the heart necessary to entrance the adults. This is a Walt Disney production and usually that infers a certain level of quality but even the best slugger swings and misses on occasion and this is definitely a strike for the House of Mouse. The bottom line of this is perhaps selecting another Disney title might be a good idea for family fun night.

The original material used as the basis of this flick was from Matt Lopez and translated to a screenplay by Matt Lopez along with Tim Herlihy. Lopez is new to film and Disney with one script before this one; ‘Race to Witch Mountain’. Herlihy, on the other hand, has worked with Sandler for much of his career starting back in his days on Saturday Night Live right on through most of Sandler’s movies. I guess that’s one positive here that the man is well versed in writing for the somewhat bizarre comic style of Sandler. It might also be one reason Sandler has escaped the infamous SNL movie curse. Herlihy is usually behind the scenes proving screenplays that are episodic in nature. This play to the one possible strength of Sandler; he is best in small doses, a plot device used in this flick is to segment the story into brief vignettes, each one with its own shortened arc that general contribute to the progression of the overall story. It relieves Sandler of some of the pressure to maintain the same persona through the entire film. The fundamental premise of this flick lends itself nicely to this segment oriented way of telling a story but unfortunately the humor is too broad and comes off as so far over the top that the scaffold falters under its own weight.

Skeeter Bronson is pretty much the same character Sandler plays in every skit, bit or film he has ever appeared in; the lovable goofy guy destined to always be the one cracking jokes or making stuff up. With a name like Skeeter it just seems dubious that he would ever be appointed to the Supreme Court. Thankfully Skeeter has not personally contributed to the gene pool but his sister Wendy (Courteney Cox) has a couple of suitably adorable rug rats and uncle Skeeter gets to babysit them even though he hardly had any prior time getting to know. Let’s just say this not leaving a responsible adult in charge. Skeeter has been having his own problems with his life. He works as a handy man at a hotel but there is a rub. The hotel had been owned by Skeeter’s family and dear old dad promised Skeeter would one day run the place. That is before the hotel was sold to Barry Nottingham (Richard Griffiths) and the new owner brought in his own manager, Kendall (Guy Pearce). Just after the regular baby sitter, Jill (Keri Russell) leaves for the night Skeeter tucks little Bobbi (Laura Ann Kesling) and Patrick (Jonathan Morgan Heit) into bed and tells them a bedtime story about a medieval knight named ‘Sir Fix-a-lot’ and his arch enemy Sir Buttkiss. The characters are loosely based on Skeeter and Kendall. The kids are getting into the story even adding their own touches. Towards the end Patrick has the heroic knight greeted with a rain of gumballs. The next day Skeeter accepts a change to come up with a better theme for the hotel than the rock-and-roll one offered by Randall. As Sweeter leaves the building he is pelted by a hail of gumballs. Let’s face it; most five year olds can write the ending at this point. Each day after telling the kids another story at bed time it plays out in the real world. As a convenient coincidence each story seems to have a theme suitable for the hotel contest and a relationship begins to form between Skeeter and Jill. For households with very young children and a rainy day outside this might work but otherwise look further down the Disney isle.

Posted 03/21/2010

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