Disney is place where people on their way up (Lindsay Lohan in Herbie Fully Loaded) or on their way down (Michael Keaton and Matt Dillion in the same film) often find themselves. That makes me wonder a bit about Adam Sandler's career. After a string of mediocre-at-best films the one time superstar finds himself making a film for the House of Mouse, Bedtime Stories. With his gross out humor toned down a bit, Sandler is effective in this charming, family-friendly story, but it's ultimately so bland that it won't do much to bolster Sandler's sagging career.
When Marty Bronson (Jonathan Pryce) is forced to sell his small LA hotel or go bankrupt, he makes buyer Barry Nottingham (Richard Griffiths) promise to let his young son Skeeter (Adam Sandler) one day run hotel that
While he's down in the dumps, Skeeter's sister Wendy asks him to sit her two children (even though she hasn't talked to him in four years and he doesn't know her kid's names) while she's out job hunting in Arizona. The school she was principle of is closing down and the land has been sold. (You'll never guess who bought it and what's going to be erected on the site.) Skeeter watches the kids at night while Wendy's friend Jill (Keri Russell) takes them to and from school.
The first night Skeeter has no idea what to do with the children, so he tells them a bed time story, with much input from the kids themselves. The story is very autobiographical with Skeeter playing a hard working knight who gets passed over for the job of running the castle. In the story however, the king decides to give the underappreciated knight a shot at the top job just before it starts to rain gumballs.
The next day Skeeter is astounded that, while fixing Mr. Nottingham's TV, he indeed does get a shot at managing the new hotel. He's even more flabbergasted when he gets caught in a rain of gumballs on his way home. It's clear that the tales that are told at night are coming true, but it's only the parts that the children tell that come real. So how can he convince them to write a happy ending to his story without them messing it up?
There were some amusing moments in this movie, and I did laugh a couple of time. (The flame proof spray for Xmas trees scene was funny, and I enjoyed the original ending for the first fairy tale.) The rest of the film rarely rises above the 'mildly amusing' stage though. A lot of the gags go on for way too long (the rain of gumballs for example) and the plot was incredibly weak. Some of the more interesting aspects of the story are never examined, like why Skeeter's sister hasn't talked to him in four years, and the rest feels like it was written by a committee.
This is one of those movies where the viewer picks up on what's going on way before the characters do, and that's never good. The romantic subplot was forced and more silly than most of the actual jokes, and there were a lot of events that didn't make any sense. (Why was Skeeter's room-service friend sleeping in his room?) Added to that is some horrible dialog and a deus ex machina ending was so ludicrous and full of plot holes to sap what little enjoyment there was in the rest of the film.
Having said that, if you can ignore the uneven plot and just sit back and relax the film has its moments. There are some scenes that will elicit a smile and when all is said and done it's a harmless film that kids will probably enjoy.
The Blu-ray Disc:
The film is encoded at 1080p with the AVC codex and presented with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Overall it looks good with nice detail a pleasing image. The fantasy scenes have a lot of rich vibrant colors and they're reproduced very well; colors look bright and accurate without being punched up in postproduction. The blacks are nice and inky too. The contrast is good and lines are tight and sharp. The level of detail is good even in shadows. The biggest problem with the movie image-wise isn't a fault of the disc at all, more with the production, and that's the CGI. The computer animated segments stand out pretty blatantly, especially Bugsy the guinea pig. Whenever his face is on the screen it just screams out "fake!" Since he has absolutely no part in the plot and doesn't even come across as a comic relief you have to wonder why he was even included.
Disney provides a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track for the film and it's pretty uneven. During the fantasy scenes and the film's big conclusion the action comes across a bit too loud and the music can be overpowering. During the rest of the film the audio is centered squarely on the screen with little in the way of rear channel action. The dialog is always clear however and the dynamic range is good.
As Disney has been doing with it's BR releases lately, this disc also comes with a DVD copy of the film, as well as a disc that contains a digital copy if you want to view this movie in lower definition on miniature screen. In addition there are several featurettes, none of which are really exciting. One nice thing is that they are all presented in HD.
First off is Until Gravity Do Us Part (4 min), a look at how the zero G space battle was filmed. To All the Little People (5 min) isn't about the group of "angry dwarves" featured in the film but interviews with the two child co-stars. It's Bugsy (4 min) shows how the bug-eyed guinea pig was created.
The disc is rounded out by 10 minutes worth of cut scenes that deserved to be cut and a 7 minute gag reel that had its moments. There's also a series of trailers for other Disney films.
Even from a kid's point of view, this film leaves something to be desired. With few jokes and even fewer funny jokes, the film just doesn't deliver. Yeah there were some amusing moments and though a lot of the film doesn't work, some of it does. The movie is ultimately forgettable though, so if you're curious this would be a good rental.
Note: The images in this review are not from the Blu-ray disc and do not necessarily represent the image quality on the disc.