Bedtime Stories (2008)

Rated: PG for some mild rude humor and mild language.
Length: 95 minutes
Grade: C+BBC=C
Budget: $80 million
Box Office: $209 million (110 U.S., 99 Intl.)

Written by: Matt Lopez (Race to Witch Mountain) and Tim Herlihy (Mr. Deeds, Little Nicky, Big Daddy, Waterboy, Wedding Singer, Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison)
Directed by: Adam Shankman (Prop 8 The Musical, Hairspray, Cheaper by the Dozen 2, The Pacifier, Walk to Remember, The Wedding Planner)
Starring: Adam Sandler, Keri Russell, Jonathan Morgan Heit, Laura Ann Kesling, Guy Pearce, Russell Brand, and Courtney Cox.

A hotel janitor dreams of receiving the promise given to his father of running the hotel bought from him by a developer years ago. While babysitting his sister’s two children, some of the bedtime stories they tell each other start coming true, and he tries to use this power to his advantage.

Entertainment Value: C+
The strength of this movie is really in the concept rather than in the execution, although the disparity between great idea and awful execution isn’t quite as great as it was for Click. There are funny moments and enough silliness to entertain slightly older kids, although ours found it boring. This is like so many other Adam Sandler films, disappointing but not awful. And, sadly, it was better until the last 10-15 minutes when it became thoroughly ridiculous in terms of plausibility.

Superficial Content: B
Drugs/Alcohol A, Sex/Nudity A, Violence A-, Language B+, Illegality A
The PG is for a couple of very mild language issues (like calling one fictional characters “Sir Butt-kiss”) and perhaps a lot of bikini-clad women. There are also some mild fighting sequences and a guy stung on the tongue by a bee. This could just about be G rated, and an animated version would certainly have been. Obviously, we let our kids watch it…at least until they got bored and didn’t want to anymore.

Significant Content: B
Imagination is very important, and it’s better to have fun than to be practical. Stories matter. It’s okay to break the rules so long as they’re dumb ones and it’s all in good fun. Life does have happy endings. Stories without tension aren’t interesting. Don’t give up on your dreams, and it’s important to do work you believe in.

Artistic/Thought Value: C
As I mentioned before, I was mostly disappointed that this very excellent concept wasn’t executed better. And, as my wife would complain, why does every director feel the need to include a love story in what would otherwise be a perfectly fine movie all on its own? One thing I did find neat about this film was the way it made realistically plausible scenarios to explain the seemingly impossible occurrences.

Discussion Questions:
~Why do we Americans so desire our drama to have a happy ending? Consider that the most lasting form of Greek drama was to be a tragedy. Is it good to have happy endings all the time? What value do Christians see in so-called unhappy endings?
~Are big hotels better at serving their customers than small ones? Consider Marriott, for instance.
~Do you tell bedtime stories in your house? Do you make them up from scratch? How important would you say it is for children to make up their own stories?
~What’s the difference between stories that are intended to prove a point (like the ones Skeeter finds in the kids’ room at first) and stories that are just meant to have fun? Do stories need to be plausible at all?
~What is this movie trying to say about being imaginative and eating healthy food? Is it important for kids to have strict diets? Consider obesity in this country.
~What is this movie trying to say about germs, and what might they symbolize?
~Does television cultivate imagination or hinder it? How does the absence of a TV fit in to this story? Compare the imagination of the kids with the inability of the hotel owner to come up with a good idea and his desire to watch television in his room.
~Why does this movie refuse to give any explanation for why the stories come true? Does that matter? Does that fit in with the very nature of fantastic stories?
Overall Grade: C
Adam Sandler has made four very good movies: Spanglish, 50 First Dates, Reign Over Me, and Happy Gilmore. Note, the absence of this film from that list. If you want an outstanding movie about fiction and storytelling, Big Fish is your movie.

No comments: