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Bedtime Stories


Stars: Adam Sandler, Keri Russell, Richard Griffiths, Guy Pearce, Courteney Cox, Russell Brand, Jonathan Pryce, Teresa Palmer, Lucy Lawless

Director: Adam Shankman

This must have seemed like a great idea (at the time) for an (almost) family movie. Once upon a time, there was a man called Marty (Pryce), who built his own motel and hoped to leave it to his scapegrace son Skeeter (Sandler). But, after Marty falls on hard times and has to sell, the new owner (a slimmed-down Griffiths) soon forgets his promise about Skeeter, who finds himself relegated to handyman at Griffiths' grand new hotel on Marty's old site.

Worse still, the obnoxious Kendall (Pearce) is cosying up to Griffiths' daughter (Palmer) and threatens to inherit.

When Skeeter's sister (Cox) finds her school facing closure, she heads to another state to look for work, leaving Skeeter in joint charge of her two kids with another teacher, Jill (Russell). Skeeter feeds the kids (and their bug-eyed guinea pig) junk food - then has to tell them bedtime stories while Jill's off at night school.

These are rudimentary and clumsily told anecdotes which cast Skeeter himself as a western hero, a spaceman, a charioteer etc. Sandler is edging into Danny Kaye territory here, but he has neither the right personality nor script to carry it off. At any rate, parts of the stories seem to come true, to Skeeter's benefit, although he worries when the children demand his character be consumed by a fireball at the end of the last story.

This is a cracking comedy cast - Sandler's mate Rob Schneider turns up in cameos as an Indian chief and a sneak thief - but the screenplay gives them little chance to shine. Brand has a rather demeaning role as Skeeter's waiter friend - the kind of token part Hollywood used to hand successful UK comics decades ago. Mild crude humour rears its head here and there, but don't despair entirely - the last 10 minutes are the most fun. And Pearce's Broadway number when competing with Sandler for managership of a new hotel entirely steals the show. Give that man a musical.

David Quinlan

USA 2008. UK Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures. Colour by deluxe.
98 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 22 Dec 2008