When Bedtime Stories was released in the theater on Christmas Day 2008, everybody in my family wanted to go see it. Though Adam Sandler is a bit hit or miss for me (I enjoyed movies like Click, The Longest Yard, Mr. Deeds and 50 First Dates, but had no interest in Little Nicky, The Waterboy, or Happy Gilmore), Disney + Sandler seems to be a pretty good combination for family fare.
The story of Bedtime Stories revolves around hotel handyman Skeeter Bronson (Sandler), his sister Wendy (Courtney Cox), Wendy's friend Jill (Keri Russell), and Skeeter's niece and nephew Patrick (Jonathan Morgan Heit) and Bobbi (Laura Ann Kesling). Wendy asks Skeeter to babysit her two kids in the evenings while she's out of town for a job interview. Poor Skeeter hasn't seen the kids for a while, so he doesn't quite know how to relate to them. But eventually he starts telling bedtime stories to them before bed, and finds that certain aspects of the stories start coming true.
The movie started more than a bit slowly for me. Jill's character comes across as a heck of a fuddy duddy. And Sandler is just playing the same big kid role that he's played in nearly all of his movies so far. But once the kids get involved, it starts to warm up quickly. The kids and their crazy guinea pig Bugsy (for his big bug eyes) bring us out of the Sandler zone back into the Disney zone.
Surrounding the kids, Sandler, and Russell are a slew of cool and just plain wacky characters played by a great cast. Jonathan Pryce plays Wendy and Skeeter's dad and acts as the narrator for the story. Guy Pearce plays Kendall, the self-absorbed apparent heir to the hotel dynasty of Barry Nottingham (Richard Griffiths, playing an eccentric germaphobe). And he's dating Nottingham's daughter, Violet (Teresa Palmer). Skeeter's best friend is Mickey, played by the always insane Russell Brand. Lucy Lawless plays the heartless Aspen, front desk clerk and co-conspirator with Kendall. And Rob Schneider (Chief Running Mouth) is always fun, playing a fast-talking Native American horse dealer (and later a pickpocket) who gives Skeeter a horse, painted red and called Ferrari.
Though the movie delves into the absurd on a number of occasions, anything can happen in a story – and the fact that sometimes happy endings do happen in real life and that dreams can come true are kind of the morals of the film. That's some of the magic of a Disney production. Without fail their kid-friendly offerings provide some sort of moral guidance to the viewer.
This DVD set included a triple-play of movie offerings: a Blu-ray version, a DVD version, and a Digital Copy. Though I wasn't able to view the Blu-ray version, it should come in handy as Blu-ray becomes more prevalent and we upgrade our aging DVD player. However, it's nice to see this sort of packaging start to appear. You have a variety of choices and aren't limited to a single distribution.
In addition to the movie, the DVD also included a number of bonus features.
"Until Gravity Do Us Part" focused on the visual effects used for the space arena story towards the end of the film. The set used a huge green screen and a combination of zero-gravity techniques such as a giant tuning fork the actors were strapped into to do flips and simulate flight in zero-G. Seeing Sandler and Pearce filming this scene was impressive. Pearce was more than a little reluctant to do some of the stunts, but both Sandler and Pearce came through in the end. It's always interesting to see what goes into some of these more complex fight scenes.
"To All the Little People" introduces us to the kids, Heit and Kesling. Sandler and Keri Russell appeared to have a great time working with them and vice versa. Sandler is a big kid anyway, so he fit in beautifully. The kids seemed to enjoy working with Russell Brand. Of course, he's just a big kid too.
In "It's Bugsy" we meet the three guinea pigs used to film the part of Bugsy, the guinea pig with googly eyes. He's really one of the stars of the film, so it was fun to see behind-the-scenes footage of the actors with the guinea pigs. (Having had a guinea pig in the past, I was impressed that the sounds made by the animated version and the real version all sounded very realistic.)
As with all Sandler movies, there had to be an outtakes reel. In "Laughter is Contagious: Outtakes" we see what goes on during, between, and after takes when you have fun actors, kids, and animals working together. Nobody can remember their lines.
"Cutting Room Floor: Deleted Scenes" included twelve scenes that didn't make it into the final cut. Most of them were fairly short, but didn't really add much to the film. My favorite was the "Broadway Musical (Extended)," which makes me giggle thinking of Pearce (star of films like Memento) singing, dancing and generally stealing the show.
"Dylan & Cole Sprouse: Blu-ray is Suite!" is basically a Blu-ray commercial starring the cast of The Suite Life.
I think my two girls (ages four and eight) enjoyed Bedtime Stories more than my wife or I, but this was definitely up their alley. It's nice to see Disney staying true to form and creating imaginative, kid-friendly productions. Be sure to check it out at your local rental store or online.