Combustible Celluloid
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With: Adam Sandler, Keri Russell, Courteney Cox, Guy Pearce, Teresa Palmer, Richard Griffiths, Russell Brand, Lucy Lawless, Jonathan Morgan Heit, Laura Ann Kesling, Jonathan Pryce
Written by: Matt Lopez, Tim Herlihy, based on a story by Matt Lopez
Directed by: Adam Shankman
MPAA Rating: PG for some mild rude humor and mild language
Running Time: 95
Date: 12/24/2008

Bedtime Stories (2008)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Pillow Case

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Adam Sandler's screen image has always relied on three factors. He can be very sweet; there's just no other word for it. Then he has a raging temper that urges him to beat up Bob Barker on golf courses. Finally there's the penchant for totally lowbrow, rude and crude toilet humor that would embarrass a toilet. Paul Thomas Anderson used the first two to brilliant effect in Punch-Drunk Love (2002), and now Adam Shankman's PG-rated Bedtime Stories eliminates the second two altogether, going just with the sweet schlub factor. It's by no means as terrific as Anderson's film, but it's pleasant and won't ruffle the nerves of any stressed-out parents. (It's hoping to be this year's Night at the Museum.)

Sandler plays 'Skeeter' Bronson, a maintenance man at a big hotel. The hotel was once a lot smaller and once belonged to Skeeter's father (Jonathan Pryce) and it was once promised that Skeeter would grow up and have a good job. Now, Skeeter's sister (Courteney Cox) asks him to babysit her son and daughter for a week, and he begins telling them bedtime stories, tales of knights and cowboys and other things, loosely based on his own pathetic life. When the children begin adding in their own details, these details (such as raining gumballs) come true. So Skeeter begins trying to manipulate the tales to his own advantage. Keri Russell co-stars as the obligatory love interest.

Director Shankman (who, in the press notes, is questionably referred to a "master of comedy") barely keeps these things afloat with his scrubbed, clunky direction, but the film moves quickly, and has a good feel for an array of actors; Guy Pearce is Skeeter's snooty competition for a promotion, Richard Griffiths is the germ-phobic hotelier, and Teresa Palmer is the hotelier's blonde, partying daughter (who does she remind me of?). And Lucy Lawless has a surprising role as a snippy desk-harpy who hates Skeeter. But Sandler is the reason to see this; he doesn't exactly bond with the kids, but he plays nicely with them, and his effortless rapport makes Bedtime Stories go down easy.

DVD Details: Disney has released another of its three-disc hybrid editions, with one Blu-Ray disc, one DVD, and one "digital copy" for your computer or iPhone. The DVD comes with three short, kid-friendly featurettes, some bloopers, ten-minutes of deleted scenes, and a promo for Blu-Ray. There are optional language tracks and subtitles, and scene selections, plus trailers for other Disney releases. A regular

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