Bedtime Stories is fairly much the Adam Sandler film as usual. The major difference is that in 2006 Sandler became a parent. Thus Bedtime Stories is a childrens-centred movie indeed, the film is a co-production between Sandlers Happy Madison production company and Disney. Sandler appears to have become infected by the same disease that Robin Williams did in the 1990s when he went from being one of the funniest, edgiest comics in the US to making films that his kids would watch and in doing so turned into a mushy marshmallow from which his career has never recovered. The major difference might be that Adam Sandler is far from being one of the funniest guys in the US and his making his films for a G-rated audience could well be a move that improves them immeasurably.
Alas, Bedtime Stories is lumbered with an entirely unpromising director in Adam Shankman. Shankman has made a range of entirely forgettable films such as the Jennifer Lopez romcom The Wedding Planner (2001), the chastity romance A Walk to Remember (2002) and a bunch of light family comedies such as Bringing Down the House (2003), Cheaper By the Dozen 2 (2005) and The Pacifier (2005), which was so awful it fairly much wrecked Vin Diesels credibility as an actor, as well as the mega-success of the musical Hairspray (2007) and Rock of Ages (2012).
Bedtime Stories comes with an incredibly slim premise guy finds that elements out of the bedtime stories he tells two kids are starting to come true. That is about the sum of the film. There is no explanation of what makes things come true, no rules created for the premise, no explanation of how it is only Adam Sandlers bedtime stories that come true as opposed to anybody else in the world who has ever told their kid a bedtime story. Now a much cleverer director might have been able to make something out of the idea we could have ended up with a work as delightful as Beauties of the Night (1952) or The Science of Sleep (2006), where the respective directors kept twisting daydream and reality into such a wilfully absurd pretzel that the incursions of fantasy came with complete charm. However, the stories here have a prosaic lack of any magic to them. There is nothing to them as stories all they serve as is a slim springboard for Adam Sandler to come on and do his usual thing.
All of this gets played out in a way that panders to the worst of both Adam Sandler and Adam Shankman dream sequences with farting horses, Sandler regular Rob Schneider as a bad caricature of an American Indian, an Ancient Rome sequence that features Sandler doing Evel Knievel sequences with a chariot. Adam Sandler films always see the need to take easy potshots at some group in society here he levels his targets at the straw figures of greenie, health-conscious liberals. (We also get angry dwarfs kicking Sandlers shins throughout for no particular purpose). A typical idea of the level of the film can be best demonstrated by two climactic sequences one that involves Adam Sandler and Guy Pearce fighting with lightsabres that manifest hands at the end of their beams of light that slap faces and shove fingers up an opponents nose, as well as the appearance of a booger monster; and another sequence that requires Sandler, under the pretext of having a bee sting on his tongue, to give a speech entirely in babytalk. These are supposed to be funny but failed to get a laugh even from the children in the audience at the screening I attended. The visual effects people have put a good deal into depicting mediaeval castles and Roman coliseums but up against Adam Sandlers sloppy schmuck persona they seem frivolously wasted.
There is also something about Adam Sandlers performance that feels tired. It is as though he has dutifully turned up to collect his $20 million+ paycheque and walked through the film not having made any effort to do anything. Surrounded by kids here, he looks like someones grandfather who turns up at a kids party and sits there tossing off lame lines to try and get a response from his audience. It may say something when the film is stolen from under him by a CGI-generated hamster with creepy oversized eyes that does not even have a single line of dialogue.