Bedtime Stories (Blu-ray)
Directed by Adam Shankman
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:11080pAVC codec
Running Time: 99 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Spanish
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
MSRP: $ 39.99
Release Date: April 5, 2009
Review Date: March 27, 2009
Adam Sandler in a Disney movie? Yes, and he’s surprisingly good as the underachieving uncle who charms children and adults alike with his shambling good spirits and unassuming ways. Reminiscent of a fantasy that Tim Burton or Terry Gilliam might have concocted for the screen (but without any dark undercurrents they would likely have brought to the project), Bedtime Stories has many delightful moments. It resorts to some flat, unworthy slapstick on occasion, and its characters are unchallengingly simplistic, but the best of the film’s flights of imagination make it a charming, entertaining comedy for children and adults.
Hotel handyman Skeeter Bronson (Adam Sandler) is coerced by his sister Wendy (Courteney Cox) to spend a week babysitting her two young children (Jonathan Morgan Heit, Laura Ann Kesling) while she’s away on a job interview. The trio of fun loving sprites spend fun evenings concocting imaginative bedtime stories that place Skeeter in heroic roles in tales ranging from medieval knights to the Old West, from ancient Greece to outer space. All of the stories revolve out of Skeeter’s acrimonious relationship with his employer (Richard Griffiths) who had promised Skeeter’s father (Jonathan Pryce) that Skeeter would one day be given a chance of managing the hotel that Skeeter’s father had created originally but had instead been given over to sleazy no-goodnick Kendall (Guy Pearce). Oddly, events that happen in the children’s variations on Skeeter’s stories begin to come true in unexpected ways giving Skeeter hope that he can maneuver a story out of the children where he actually wins back control of the hotel.
The film’s primary entertainment value lies in the silly but enjoyable heroic tales (script by Matt Lopez and Tim Herlihy) the trio concoct for Skeeter to experience some momentary triumphs. Each has its own identity and variable roles for each of the film’s principals to play a part in, a simple variation on The Secret Life of Walter Mitty or Dream Girl, both 1940s films with similar but slightly more sophisticated fantasizing. Adam Shankman directs with a light touch except when he gives in to his leading man’s tendencies to excess and sophomoric humor. Yes, even in a Disney comedy, there have to be some fart, booger, and ass jokes. There’s also a saucer-eyed guinea pig character Bugsy who’s part real and part CGI. He wears out his welcome long before the end of the film, but children will no doubt adore him.
Adam Sandler’s ingratiating way with children isn’t really a surprise given the tender moments he showed us as far back as Big Daddy, but he’s an effective man-child in this kind of movie, and given this film’s success at the box-office, we’re likely to see him in more of these family-oriented films. Keri Russell makes a fetching love interest for Sandler, especially since his boss’s daughter played by Teresa Palmer is initially set up as his heart’s desire. Guy Pearce can do the nefarious weasel bit with his eyes closed while Russell Brand as room service waiter Mickey adds some sparkle and fun to the fantasies, especially as a satyr in the Greek segment. As for the two children, they get the job done though Laura Ann Kesling tends to smile at inappropriate moments unable to hide the obvious good time she’s having working on such playful material. Their seeming enjoyment is often contagious in a film that works hard to charm and often succeeds.
The film’s 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Colors are bright, candy-colored delights, and contrast is usually (but not always) spot-on to give the image a vivid dimensionality that’s very involving. Flesh tones are often quite accurate (maybe just a tad on the brown side) while black levels are very good. The film has been divided into 20 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track comes alive during the fantasy sequences, particularly the ones set in Greece and outer space where contests with screaming crowds dominate the surrounds. Elsewhere, though, the surround channels don’t seem to get enough attention apart from Rupert Gregson-Williams’ lively music which gets piped around the soundfield. The LFE channel is used to good but not great effect.
The special features selection is surprisingly skimpy for such a popular film. All of the bonuses are presented in 1080p.
“Until Gravity Do Us Part” gives us 4 minutes of behind-the-scenes glimpses at the filming of the sci-fi fantasy sequence with Adam Sandler and Guy Pearce (and their stunt doubles) on wires as moves are choreographed and shot.
“To All the Little People” interviews child actors Laura Ann Kesling and Jonathan Morgan Heit as they discuss their typical days of filming on the movie. Adam Sandler, director Adam Shankman, Keri Russell, and Courtney Cox all give testimony to the children’s talent and professionalism. It runs for 5 ½ minutes.
“It’s Bugsy” is a brief 3 ¾-minute tribute to the film’s cuddly guinea pig character (played by three different live animals and aided by computer graphics).
There are 6 ¾ minutes of bloopers and outtakes.
There are twelve deleted scenes which can be viewed individually or watched in one 10 ½-minute clump.
The disc is BD-Live enabled though the network had not been activated during the review period.
There are 1080p previews for Hannah Montana: The Movie, Morning Light, Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, G-Force, and Monsters, Inc.
Disc two in the set is the DVD copy of the film.
Disc three in the set is the digital copy of the movie. Contained in the case is a brochure with the activation code and instructions for installation on PC and Mac devices.
A family comedy with some delightfully imaginative moments amid some rather routine, tired slapstick, Bedtime Stories on Blu-ray features a beautiful transfer, a good audio mix, but only a moderate selection of bonus material. There’s enough entertainment value in the film itself, though, to delight most members of the family.