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Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Bedtime Stories

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for some mild rude humor and mild language
Profanity:Some crude language
Nudity/Sex:Kissing, boy-girl humor, references to a young girl being "hot"
Alcohol/Drugs:Social drinking
Violence/Scariness:Comic peril and violence
Diversity Issues:None
Movie Release Date:December 25, 2008
DVD Release Date:April 7, 2009
B-
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for some mild rude humor and mild language
Profanity: Some crude language
Nudity/Sex: Kissing, boy-girl humor, references to a young girl being "hot"
Alcohol/Drugs: Social drinking
Violence/Scariness: Comic peril and violence
Diversity Issues: None
Movie Release Date: December 25, 2008
DVD Release Date: April 7, 2009

Once upon a time there was a movie studio that thought it could produce a hit with a performer best known for raunchy slacker comedies and a lot of money for special effects. This story does not turn out very happily ever after.

Adam Sandler plays Skeeter, a hotel handyman who dreams of being the manager. His sister Wendy (Courtney Cox) asks him to stay with her children while she interviews for a new job. He tells them a bedtime story which they embellish and the next day some of its most outlandish details start to come true, even a shower of gumballs. As Skeeter competes with the obsequious Kendall (Guy Pearce) who is the boyfriend of the hotel owner, for the position of manager of a fancy new facility, he tries to direct the bedtime stories to help him succeed. Each night’s story — whether about a knight, a cowboy, an outer space adventurer, or a gladiator — influences the next day’s events.

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The children in the audience laughed a lot at some of the silly details and schoolyard humor. And they enjoyed figuring out before Skeeter did that it was not the details he added to the story but the children’s ideas that shaped the real-world events. There are some marvelous special effects in the depiction of the stories, too. But anyone over the age of seven is unlikely to be more than mildly entertained by the film because of Sandler’s pudgy, barely-interested performance and a present-day storyline that is lackluster in contrast with the wild adventures of the bedtime sagas. Wendy’s “funny” restrictions on the children’s food and activities and a subplot intended to be suspenseful about whether her school will be torn down are distracting, especially when near the end there is a big waste of time when the film has to step up the pressure by putting children in senseless peril and dragging out the suspense. Keri Russell is radiant as always as Wendy’s friend and Skeeter’s love interest. Her brief appearance in the fantasy stories are as dazzling as the most elaborate special effects. The other characters are never as interesting as the time allotted to them means them to be. British bad boy Russell Brand is completely out of place as Skeeter’s friend and Guy Pearce is fighting at way below his weight class as Skeeter’s nemesis. We would all have done better if the children wrote the story.

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  • Dustin Putman

    Hi Nell, this review sounds very negative (as does your Rotten Tomatoes quote). I don’t blame you for your criticisms (I didn’t like it, either), but what were the reasons for giving it a B-? I don’t deny that little kids may be amused, but they deserve better. The plot is imaginative, but it is wasted upon poor execution and bad screenwriting. Just curious.
    Hope you are having an enjoyable holidays.

  • Nell Minow

    Hi, Dustin! When I’m deciding between a B- and something lower (as you know, the big divide between a ripe and a rotten tomato on rottentomatoes.com), I try to make the decision based on how well the movie meets its aspirations with regard to its intended audience. While I didn’t like the movie much, I had to acknowledge that most of the kids who come to see it will. I am not going to give a good review to a poor movie just because kids will like it, and I tried to point out in the review the ways in which the movie failed. But when it comes down to summarizing my reaction in a grade, I will err on the side of a positive review if I think its intended audience will find what they are looking for.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family and I look forward to seeing you at the movies in 2009.

  • jane

    This movie was a riot, although I would not allow my young kids to see it.

  • mom of 4 and movie lover

    This movie was entertaining and deserved a higher rating! I took my 4 kids and all were entertained including my husband and myself! Why are you so critical of a good family movie? I give it an AAAA++++
    and HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who wants to take their family to a movie that everyone will enjoy!!!

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Thanks, Mom of 4! I’m always glad when someone sees more in a movie than I do and am always glad when the people who visit this site see some opinions that differ from mine. I appreciate it.

  • Karen

    Not your perfect family movie (not many are these days) but we were all entertained and we liked it. I took all my kids. Will this movie be in my collection? Absolutely NOT but for my kids to see it ONCE was fine and yes we discussed it afterwards.

  • Dave

    I have to say we really Bedtime Stories.
    My family of 7 all loved this movie. There was some eye-rolling from at jokes like the often repeated hamster-eyes but we found this a well-rounded blend of fantasy realms, imagination and silliness. Nothing was very offensive coming from a house with 4 boys and myself. From the narration to the story sequences, the movie captures kid-like fantasy in both real-life and imaginary settings. Adam Sandler is great and did not run away with the production although he makes the show. I think he could have a future in family friendly movies with this kind of work.
    Mostly it was nice to be able to view a original, creative movie with my children of 15,14,10,9 and 6 without having to cover sighs or complaints of boredom or scary images from anyone. PG has crept to the territory that PG-13 used to be and finding a movie that can entertain and inspire creativity without being offensive is a jewel. I’m buying the DVD for myself if not the kids!

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    A great comment, Dave, thanks!

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