Okay, you have been there, I know you have. You are off to see one film, but it is sold out, thus you have to settle for another one...one that you would never pay to see (actually you aren't even the one paying so you shouldn't complain). Of course, it is the holidays and there are youngsters in your party so you just wish that the concession stand line hadn't been so long because at least you would have been comforted by food. This was the situation when I saw the Disney produced and Adam Sandler starring (his production company was also involved) film, 'Bedtime Stories'. Let me be the first to tell you unless you haven't been able to figure it out yet, I thought this movie sucked. It didn't suck big, but it did suck.
The story begins with Jonathon Pryce narrating a little tale, in his dignified British accent, about managing a little motel somewhere in LA with the help of his two children - over eager son and super critical daughter who grow into Sandler and Courtney Cox. Pryce can't make a go of it thus his little hotel is sold to that guy who plays Harry Potter's uncle in the Potter film franchise, Richard Griffiths. Pryce sells under one condition; that someday his son will be given the position of manager.
Years later Sandler is still working for the now mega-exclusive hotel as a maintenance man. He is still the goofy kid we remember, but isn't the most monkey boy person on the staff, that honor would go to hotel waiter, Russell Brand, who is at least interesting to look at. Sandler goes to a birthday party for his nephew and niece whom he barely knows because Courtney Cox's husband, who has just left her, did not approve of Sandler. Of course, after years of non-sibling communication, Cox asks her brother to watch her children for a week as she goes to a job interview in Arizona because her school where she is a principal and where her children attend is going to close and then be torn down. Do you have all of that? Good. Because then Cox tells Sandler that he only has to worry about the kids at night because her friend and teacher at her school, Keri Russell, will watch them during the day.
At the hotel, Griffiths plans to update and has named his predecessor to be the current manager, Guy Pearce. The same Guy Pearce who used to be that excellent actor who starred in those excellent movies ('Memento' and 'L.A. Confidential') - I guess the mortgage was due. His character is dating Griffiths' daughter played by Teresa Palmer who is such a Paris Hilton knock-off that you got to wonder if Hilton ever thinks about suing over the use of her obvious iconic status. The crux of the story; will Sandler be able to persuade Griffiths to allow him to manage the hotel over butt-kissing Pearce and how will the stories he tells his niece and nephew play into helping him achieve that goal? Oh, and manning the front desk is Lucy Lawless of 'Xena: Warrior Princess' fame, which later had me thinking; what the hell happened to Lucy Lawless?
The best parts of the movie is when Sandler tells his stories which are fanciful and tend to have a way of coming true. The part about coming true is troublesome in that you don't know if it is because of the kids, the hotel, or even the guinea pig that Sandler and the kids keep calling a hamster. Unfortunately, the story scenes are too few and too short thus leaving the viewer with the crapola of the rest of the film.
Most people in the audience seem to like the film well enough, but I can tell you that no one was going to put it on their favorites list for 2008. Remember the live action Disney films of yesteryear? Maybe I'm reminiscing about them with rose colored glasses, but they always felt as if they had more heart ('Parent Trap', 'That Darn Cat', all the Jodie Foster films she made in between playing a child prostitute). In 'Bedtime' there were too many characters and too many storylines for younger members of the audience to follow in my opinion. Further, Sandler was not charming and dare I say it, come closer because I want to whisper it, the children were fugly - especially the boy, whom I will not name (please, I have some compassion) but to say he is destined to play some Cousin Oliver role in a horrible family sit-com, which I would never watch. The only one who fared well was Russell Brandt who with the right role (he is rumored to be attached to an 'Arthur' remake) could really become a star.
So, if you are anything like me, avoid 'Bedtime Stories'.
Westerfield © 2009