THE PLOT THUS FAR
A fantastical tale about a man who makes up bedtime stories for his niece and nephew only to find that they magically come true the next day, Bedtime Stories is a funny and enjoyable film about finding happiness in unexpected places. Skeeter (Adam Sandler) grew up with his sister Wendy (Courteney Cox) in a small hotel run by his father Marty (Jonathan Pryce) which was eventually sold to Barry Nottingham (Richard Griffiths) with the caveat that Skeeter would someday assume a leadership role in the business. Expansion transformed the small hotel into the luxury Nottingham Hotel, but Skeeter is just a handyman with little hope of advancement. When his sister needs to leave the state for a job interview, Skeeter ends up sharing the responsibility of watching her two elementary-age children Bobbi (Laura Ann Kessling) and Patrick (Jonathan Morgan Heit), whom he hasn’t seen for years, with Wendy’s friend Jill (Keri Russell). Initially an awkward situation, Skeeter and the kids bond over bedtime stories which Skeeter and the children make up. When events in the story start coming true, Skeeter tries to spin the stories to benefit his life, but events take some unexpected turns thanks to the kids’ wild imaginations and some strange translations between fiction and reality. New relationships flourish and in the end, Skeeter, Wendy, Mr. Nottingham, Bobbi, Patrick, and Jill each find happiness in a most unexpected place and discover what’s really important in their own life.
WHAT WE THOUGHT
Bedtime Stories is very reminiscent of that lighthearted fantasy and recaptures much of the good-naturedness of that previous film. It’s goofy and silly but knows it and therefore just has a lot of fun with it. Bedtime Stories doesn’t try to be anything other than fun for the whole family, and considering the other options this Christmas, that makes it a real winner.
It’s not a perfect movie, however. There are a few inconsistencies and plot holes, but if you’re willing to ignore them, they don’t dramatically effect the film. The central conceit of the story is that the stories Adam Sandler tells to a couple of kids end up coming true. At first it seems that this happens through very weird coincidences. However, later in the film they seem to come true purely by magical means. Even later in the film, it seems to be a mix of the two.
While it isn’t really necessary to explain how these stories are coming true, if the movie is going to try to show an explanation, it should at least be consistent. I found its lack of consistency in explaining the events annoying, but it by no means ruins the movie. Also, it’s sometimes hard to figure out where the fantasy of the stories end and reality begins. Especially at the end of the film the two seem to blend together, with no real explanation given. It’s completely over the top and goofy, but again if you’re willing to just go with it without thinking too much about it, it’s still fun.
Adam Sandler carries this movie through his chemistry with the two kids, which is believable and endearing, and his trademark wit which is still as sharp as ever, just without the more colorful metaphors. However, he also has an excellent supporting cast to play off of, the best of which is Guy Pearce who appears to have a lot of fun playing the snobby, superior, self-absorbed villain in the film. True, he completely hams it up to a point of almost extreme ridiculousness, but somehow that works. It works because the lighthearted tone of the story, the magical elements, and the narration make this whole affair feel like a classic Disney fairytale, which is perhaps why it’s so enjoyable. So all of the overacting by Pearce and the other villains actually make sense and help make the film that much more fun.
And that’s what Bedtime Stories is really about: having a little bit of fun just for the fun of it. This is one of those movies that really brings out the kid in you. It helps remind you of time when anything was possible with the imagination as a child, and how sad it is that we slowly lose that as we grow older. Perhaps what we need to hang on to our fast fading youth isn’t more miracle beauty products, but to tell a few more original bedtime stories to our children, our friends, our spouses or even just to ourselves.