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Hotel handyman Skeeter Bronson's life is changed forever when the bedtime stories he tells his niece and nephew start to mysteriously come true. He attempts to take advantage of the phenomenon, incorporating his own aspirations into one outlandish tale after another, but it's the kids' unexpected contributions that turn Skeeter's life upside down.
For more about Bedtime Stories and the Bedtime Stories Blu-ray release, see Bedtime Stories Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on April 7, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Adam Sandler, Keri Russell, Guy Pearce, Russell Brand, Richard Griffiths (I), Teresa Palmer (I)
Director: Adam Shankman
» See full cast & crew
Bedtime Stories Blu-ray Review
Meh. Eh. Bleh. Ugh. Next please...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, April 7, 2009
There was a brief time in my life when the words "A Happy Madison Production" thrilled me to no end. Hot off the moderate success of actor Adam Sandler's most indelible lovable-dolt comedies -- Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, and The Waterboy -- the SNL veteran formed his own production company, vowing to deliver his particular brand of humor without any outside interference. However, it didn't take me long to realize I shouldn't have let my hopes get too high. With little more to offer than uninspired drivel like Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, Little Nicky, and The Animal, the words "Happy Madison" (at least in my household) quickly became synonymous with the phrase "no thanks, I'll pass." So it is with great trepidation that I approached Bedtime Stories, a recent family flick that struggles to blend Walt Disney sensibilities with Happy Madison humor.
Hardworking hotel handyman Skeeter Bronson (Adam Sandler) wants nothing more than to manage his father's hotel, but the greedy lout who bought the building, Mr. Nottingham (Richard Griffiths), has no intention of giving the keys to the lowly son of a failed businessman. Instead, Nottingham sets his sights on a sniveling suck-up named Kendall (Guy Pearce, slumming it for once in his career) who just so happens to be dating the billionaire's daughter, Violet (Teresa Palmer). Skeeter humbly accepts his fate and sits back as his snotty nemesis prepares to take over the hotel. However, when Skeeter's sister (Courteney Cox) enlists him to watch her two children (Jonathan Morgan Heit and Laura Ann Kesling) for a few days, he begins to realize the stories they tell before falling asleep come true the next day. Casting himself as a heroic cowboy, a valiant Roman centurion, and a brave space warrior, Skeeter tries to influence the children's tales to his whim, redirect the course of his life, and win over Nottingham's trust.
Bedtime Stories may sound like it has all the makings of a family classic, but Sandler's well-intentioned but occasionally mean-spirited protagonist will alienate children, his PG-themed jokes and gags will bore his longtime fans, and the film's clumsy performances and soulless script will leave adults staring at the clock. Sadly, only a handful of scenes -- those involving the children's imagination, a semi-charming love story, and two wonderfully conceived pop-up book sequences -- manage to leave a mark. What doesn't work? Sandler seems out of his element, struggling to connect with the distinctly diverse tastes of his multiple audiences. Subplots are hurled into the script without rhyme or reason, robbing the film of the narrative focus it so desperately needs. Worse still, the story is a complete wash, forcing kids to sit through long stretches in which our hero has to fend off villains as dastardly as reasonable expectations, assigned responsibility, and the nefarious dealings of... gasp... business rivals. Perhaps my son was just too young to push through the driest sections of the film, but he would run off and play for fifteen minutes at a time before the next all-too-brief eruption of color and noise would lure him back into the room.
Too dumb for adults, too boring for kids, and too soft-n-sappy for Sandler apologists... exactly what sort of filmfan is Bedtime Stories meant for? To be honest, I still can't figure that one out. I'll admit there are laughs to be had -- Forgetting Sarah Marshall scene-stealer Russell Brand is a constant saving grace -- but I simply couldn't distance my mind from the films glaring flaws long enough to enjoy any of it. Similarly, my son adored the cartoonish action and spirited imagination sequences, but was frustrated by the film's increasingly long-winded chatter and meandering plot. If you've already plowed through every recent Disney release at your local videostore, Bedtime Stories might be worth a try. But if you haven't had the opportunity to introduce your kids to Enchanted, WALL•E, or Pinocchio, better choices await you and your family.
Bedtime Stories Blu-ray, Video Quality
Boasting a crisp and colorful 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer, Bedtime Stories is yet another release that demonstrates Disney's unwavering commitment to high-quality high definition video. Shankman's vibrant, lush palette borders on garish and overwhelming at times, but ultimately provides a relatively appropriate treat for the eyes. Vivid contrast gives daytime exteriors and low-lit interiors impressive depth. Inky blacks and well-delineated shadows enhance the impact of the image with convincing dimensionality. While fine detail is occasionally absorbed by the darkest portions of the screen, textures are tangible and object definition is exceedingly sharp (without the use of any significant edge enhancement). To top it all off, the picture is as remarkably clean -- I didn't catch sight of any distracting artifacts, instances of banding, or print inconsistencies. Granted, some negligible noise creeps into a handful of nighttime shots, but it doesn't detract from Disney's otherwise proficient transfer.
In fact, the only issues I have with the arguably gorgeous presentation -- the appearance of slightly oversaturated skintones, the abundance of overpowering primaries, and the presence of some dodgy CG (made more apparent in high definition) -- aren't technical problems at all, but rather intentional decisions made by the filmmakers to submerge viewers in Sandler's childlike dreamscapes. As far as I'm concerned, Bedtime Stories is the latest in a string of recent Disney releases that proves the studio has a firm grasp on exactly what it takes to mint a jaw-dropping Blu-ray transfer.
Bedtime Stories Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Overpowering and obnoxious, Disney's lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track isn't nearly as impressive as its video transfer. While it's tough to tell where Bedtime Stories' pedestrian sound design ends and the shortcomings of its overworked technical mix begins, one thing is clear: it takes more finesse than heightened volume and overwrought LFE support can achieve to make a top tier audio track. While dialogue is generally crisp, it often gets trampled by the sheer bombast of the film's action sequences. Lines are sometimes muffled, whispers are drowned out, and faint high-end ambience is flushed away. Likewise, while the soundfield swirls with activity, the rear speakers are too aggressive, hindering the integrity and immersive properties of the mix. Other aspects of the track are just as inconsistent. Directionality is usually spot on, but gets dragged under the film's intrusive sonic surges like everything else. Pans are generally smooth, but so authoritative at times that all subtlety is lost. Dynamics are initially astonishing, but eventually grow annoying.
Even so, it's important to note how difficult it is to evaluate such a heavy-handed track on its merits. Disney may actually have produced a flawless lossless audio mix, but it's nearly impossible to tell since Bedtime Stories hurls every soundscape element at the listener with reckless abandon. I was simultaneously overwhelmed by the sensory assault and underwhelmed by its acuity. I suppose kids will be excited by the insanity of it all and will have no problem grabbing their ears and sinking right in. Me? I continually found myself adjusting the volume and longing for a legitimately involving experience.
Bedtime Stories Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Sorely lacking the sort of special features afforded to other family-oriented Disney releases of late, Bedtime Stories features a wholly forgettable supplemental package that probably won't appeal to parents or their children. Ah well, at least the video content (all thirty minutes of it) is presented in high definition.
Bedtime Stories Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Bedtime Stories tries to recapture the magic of timeless family classics like The Princess Bride, but falls far short of greatness with forgettable performances, contrived characters, and superficial life lessons. Will kids get a kick out of Sandler's antics? Perhaps... but with better children's entertainment on the market, it's a moot point. Alas, the Blu-ray edition of the film is a mixed bag as well. While the disc features yet another stunning video transfer from Walt Disney, it also includes a lumbering DTS-HD Master Audio track (that values blunt-force volume over noteworthy sound design) and a short, disappointing supplemental package. All things considered, fans of Bedtime Stories will be pleased with the results, but everyone else will head for the kitchen to down at least three Excedrin.
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Bedtime Stories Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Bedtime Stories Comes to Blu-ray - February 20, 2009
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the Adam Sandler family film 'Bedtime Stories' to Blu-ray on April 5th, day-and-date with the DVD release. The set will feature the film and its extras on the first disc, a digital copy on ...
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