Starring Adam Sandler, Keri
Russell, and Guy Pearce
If you draw a circle on a blackboard and ask an adult what it his, “a circle” would most likely be the reply. Ask a child what he sees, and you might find out that it’s the sun or a whole in the ground or a tire or a button or a doughnut before they remove the hole.
Where does that inventiveness and imagination go? Do we grow out of it or is it taken away? We replace it with other things, like sports stats, the drive to make a lot of money, and cynicism.
The imagination of children is what moves the plot of Bedtime Stories. Unfortunately, the rest of it is a little childish, too. That it isn’t the most mature movie on the block shouldn’t be a surprise; very rarely are the words “A Happy Madison Production” and well-adjusted adulthood ever linked.
This is Adam Sandler’s first true foray into kids’ movies after having made about a billion dollars refusing to grow up in movies like Big Daddy, The Waterboy, Happy Gilmore, and Billy Madison. In that way, he’s perfect to play the wayward uncle who connects with his niece and nephew through a week of improvised bedtime stories.
But the movie never concerns itself with where to go in between the setup and the payoff. Instead, we see a series of stories involving variations on Sandler’s hotel handyman uncle winning the girl. The girl changes as he moves past the remarkable good looks of a hotel heiress (Teresa Palmer) to the more significant substance of another beautiful woman (Keri Russell).
What fun is that for a six-year-old? They’re repelled by the opposite sex.
Instead, Sandler’s niece and nephew in Bedtime Stories are some kind of wizards. During the tall tales, to which there is never a moral, the kids invent things like “then it rains gumballs” and the next day, Sandler dodges gumballs falling from the sky. How do they predict or change the future? We don’t know. But it’s definitely got to me more appealing to imaginative kids to pursue that part of the story than watching Sandler pursue two women.