Bedtime Stories (US - BD RA)
Gabe's bedtime stories were usually just tax law read allowed. He slept well
A creative and loving child, Skeeter Bronson (Adam Sandler) is promised a leadership role when he comes of age by Mr. Nottingham (Richard Griffiths), who has purchased his father’s (Jonathan Pryce) hotel. Twenty five years later Skeeter is still working as the hotel’s general handyman. One day Skeeter’s estranged sister (Courtney Cox) announces that she needs to leave town for a week for job interviews in Arizona, and that she’s nominated him as night time babysitter, when her friend Jill (Keri Russell) has to attend night classes. Skeeter is uncomfortable with the situation, but eventually settles into telling the children creative bedtime stories, much like the ones his father used to tell him. Then impossible events from the stories begin to come true…
I loathe Adam Sandler movies. I’ve learned over many years to not confuse a person with their art, so I try not to tell people I loathe Adam Sandler, I just loathe his work. And it’s not a ‘growing out of it’ thing; I’ve never liked these movies. You can pull the ‘what about Punch Drunk Love’ argument if you want, but realistically speaking Punch Drunk Love isn’t an Adam Sandler film, it’s a Paul Thomas Anderson film, that would’ve been the same Paul Thomas Anderson movie with a different actor in the lead role. That, and I don’t actually like Punch Drunk Love all that much anyway.
So now that we have that out of the way perhaps we should chat for a bit about Bedtime Stories, Sandler’s first film with Disney studios. The nicest thing I can say about the film is that it really isn’t too bad, and if I had kids I wouldn’t be adverse to them watching it, even if I was a little afraid it was rotting their little brains. The plot is based around a common narrative thrust as of late—a man child develops a relationship with real children, who then semi-purposely assist him in developing a relationship with a woman, and find a decent career. The kids are cute enough, the girl in question is pretty hard to resist, and Sandler himself mostly keeps his usual muggings on the down low. It’s inoffensively predictable, sort of sweet, and Russell Brand steals every scene with charm to spare.
The movie actually builds to a pretty heavy moment, but the following climax finally turns that dangerous corner into plain awful. It all goes back to the ‘reality’ of the kids changing reality, which is initially in question, but disappointingly not even a little ambiguous by the end. The rock ‘em sock ‘em finale is hard to criticize because it ‘works’ on a similar level to the climax of Spike Jonze’ Adaptation, which is needlessly dumbed down to match the meta nature of the script. Still, the filmmakers behind Bedtime Stories can’t quite hide behind an intellectual reasoning, and should’ve found a way to end happy without lamely endangering previously over-protected kids, giving the protagonist superhuman abilities, and giving the previously harmless villain bloodthirsty intent. I know that’s how things work in a children’s story, but it still doesn’t work. Mostly I just feel sorry for Guy Pearce, who I honestly thought would be a star by now.
Most of Bedtime Stories is shot and lit like the usual kid’s movie—bright, slick, soft details, vibrant colours, and even gradations. The whites on this particular transfer are particularly bright, and the blacks are solid, if not as sharply separated as more high contrast Blu-ray releases. There is one scene that takes place in an entirely darkened room that pushes the photography to almost experimental levels, and is a definite improvement over the DVD version, where the slight edged lights are noisy. The detail levels and colour contrast is especially high during special effect heavy story scenes. Check out the bright red horse. The overall presentation is a little uneven, and the detail and depth changes from scene to scene, but quite pretty and colourful for the most part.
As in the case of the video, Bedtime Stories becomes a different movie during the storytelling sequences, which are far more aggressive than the more mundane real world scenes. The action audio features all the galloping horses, cheering crowds, and battling booger monsters your system can handle, and in DTS-HD Master Audio you really couldn’t ask for much more out of a reasonably low-key kids’ movie. The real world sounds pretty natural with clear centred dialogue, and occasional stereo and surround nature effect, or screaming child. Rupert Gregson-Williams’ cutesy adventure score is pretty low on the track, almost entirely ignorable, but does have a moment of centre stage volume cranking when Guy Pierce breaks into a musical moment.
There’s not a lot here. The brevity starts with ‘Until Gravity Does Us Part’, a look at the production of the film’s space adventure story. Aspects of setting, choreography, filming, and effects are covered in the brief four minute runtime. From early production and pre-viz, to the excessive blue screen filming and post effects, the scene is not mistakenly very similar to the Star Wars prequels. ‘To All the Little People’ is five and a half minutes behind the scenes with the film’s lead child actors. The kids run down the plot down for us, Sandler and Keri Russell talk about how great the kids were, the kids thrill over the other actors, etc. ‘It’s Bugsy’ is four minutes behind the scenes with the bug-eyed guinea pig. Aspects covered include the actors working with the pigs, training the pigs, and giving the pigs CG augmentations. I cannot help but assume that Disney’s upcoming live action/animation hybrid G-Force exists simply because the CG guinea pig technology was a little too expensive, and they wanted to get a second feature out of it.
There are almost seven minutes of bloopers, followed by ten and a half minutes of deleted and extended scenes. There are twelve scenes total, each presented in HD (not entirely sharp) and Dolby Surround, with some surprisingly finished looking special effects. The scenes aren’t quite in chronological order, and mostly consist of jokes over plot elements. The extras are finished out with a selection of Disney trailers. The other two discs in this two disc set include a DVD and digital copy version of the film.
Bedtime Stories is really more of a Disney film than an Adam Sandler film, a fact that will likely disappoint the comedian’s fan base, but as someone that really doesn’t like the usual Sandler comedy the film is refreshingly average and inoffensive. Sandler defaults to his goofy bit every once and a while, but it’s pretty minimal. It’s a forgettable film for both Disney and Sandler, but is entirely harmless. The Blu-ray disc looks and sound fine, if not particularly overwhelming, but the extras are a bit on the weak side.
* Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray release
Review by Gabriel Powers
Some material may not be suitable for children
Release Date: 3rd April 2009
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish, Dolby Digital 5.1 French
Subtitles: English SDH, French, and Spanish
Extras: 'Until Gravity Does Us Part', 'To All the Little People', 'It's Bugsy!', Deleted Scenes, Bloopers, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: Adam Shankman
Cast: Adam Sandler, Keri Russell, Russell Brand, Guy Pierce
Genre: Comedy and Family
Length: 99 minutes
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