Thursday, June 11, 2009

Read me a BETTER story

Bedtime Stories (2008)

Leave it to a movie about a guy who tells bedtime stories to kids where the stories come true in real life to have absolutely NO imagination or sense of wonder.

Star Adam Sandler is out of his element here, where there are no fart or boob jokes for him to hang his “performance” on. His range as an actor seems to be obnoxious and less obnoxious, whiney and less whiney. Because this is a Disney children’s film, he has be waaay less obnoxious, so that just leaves silly (which is NOT acting). Sandler is obviously a smart businessman in real life, why can’t he just play a regular guy in his movies and not always some near-brain-damaged doofus.

Keri Russell is too good for this weak material, but she brings what she can as a very late in the movie love interest for Sandler. Courteney Cox shows she really needs the Friends ensemble to give a decent performance. The two kids in the movie are better actors than Sandler and Cox combined.

The stories Sandler tells his niece and nephew are totally uninspired stuff with a cowboy, then a knight, and finally a big Star Wars-ish overblown finale. They all come off as if they were created that day on the set: “Let’s go over to the western lot and get some horses…” It would have been better and funnier to COMBINE those genres and have, for instance, a knight in cowboy times fighting Indians, or a spaceman in Medieval times. I recently learned of a show called Food Party on IFC, where the host, a tiny cute girl named Thu Tran interacts with all these crazy handmade food-inspired puppets on cardboard sets in a surreal stew that mixes Pee Wee’s Playhouse and the craziest stuff from the old Sid and Marty Krofft TV shows from the 70s. One single short and cheap episode of Food Party has more creativity, imagination, sense of wonder and fun to it than the entire bloated, costly mess that is Bedtime Stories. (The funniest thing in Bedtime Stories is a googly-eyed guinea pig. A guinea pig. [Oooo, that foreshadows Disney's upcoming G-Force about secret agent guinea pigs!])

People always use the excuse, “well it’s JUST a kids’ movie” to explain why their kids' movies are so bad. Leaving Pixar films out of the equation as they are a world unto themselves, there are plenty of imaginative, funny kids shows out there, both older and new. SpongeBob SquarePants, Pee Wee’s Playhouse, Powerpuff Girls, The Muppets, Phineas and Ferb, Invader Zim. They bring the funny for a fraction of the budget of this movie and others like it.

So, Disney and Sandler, what’s your excuse?


  1. Adam Sandler. I just don't get it. Like you say he's a very canny businessman. From what I've seen and heard of him outside of his work he seems like a really good person too (supports his friends and their projects, supports the troops, etc). As far as his "comedy" is concerned he's just not funny. Not even by accident. But humor is a very subjective thing and doubtless his legions of fans wouldn't "get" the kind of absurdist stuff that knocks me over (talking vegetables and singing dinosaur puppets--now that's funny).

    Secret Agent Guinea Pigs. I saw the trailer for this the other day. What in the hell is an actor like Bill Nighy doing in this thing? It must have been one massive check and the chance of adding a Disney movie to your resume.

  2. I have seen a few other Sandler movies - I liked him in 50 First Dates, but not in Reign Over Me, where his scratchy whiney voice brought to mind his usual doofy characters (which of course worked against the film).

    The thing I really hated about this movie was it's complete lack of imagination. The ideas and execution for the bedtime stories were beyond lame - they were boring and deadly dull.

    Bits of Drew Carey's What's My Line improv show were funnier than anything in this movie. Isn't it said when a guy with a big $20 foam hat can be funnier than a sequence that cost literally millions of dollars in CGI?