Dreams and Nightmares
Release Date: December 25, 2008
Audience: Older children and adults
Runtime: 99 minutes
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures/The Walt Disney Company
Director: Adam Shankman
Writer: Matt Lopez and Tim Herlihy
Address Comments To:Robert Iger, President/CEO
The Walt Disney Company
(Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Miramax Films, and Buena Vista Distribution)
Dick Cook, Chairman
The Walt Disney Studios
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521
Phone: (818) 560-1000
The movie opens at a Hollywood bungalow hotel in the 70s. Marty Bronson runs the hotel for the benefit of his two children, Skeeter and Wendy. Bronson is not a good businessman and the hotel is in red ink, so he sells the hotel to an English fop named Barry Nottingham. Nottingham promises to make Skeeter the manager when he grows up, if Skeeter works hard.
Years later, Skeeter, played by Adam Sandler, is the janitor and handyman at Nottingham Hotel, which has replaced the bungalows. Nottingham has decided to build a new hotel and turn it over to Kendall, who is the main squeeze of Nottingham’s daughter. Skeeter is devastated. Everyone thinks he’s loser.
Skeeter’s sister Wendy asks him to look after her two children, because she’s just been laid off as principal of her school, which has been shut down, and has to go out of town on a job interview. Unknown to anyone, Nottingham has bribed the city officials to shut down the school so he can build a big hotel.
Skeeter is uncomfortable with Wendy’s children and with their other caretaker, Jill, who watches the children during Skeeter’s shift at the hotel. To keep them occupied, Skeeter tells them bedtime stories. The next day, the stories start to come true. Skeeter thinks he can speak stories into reality, but he soon finds out that the children control the stories. The joke’s on him, because every time he develops an ending that helps him, they change the ending in a way that hurts him, usually in comical ways.
In this complex plot structure, Skeeter convinces Nottingham that Kendall’s idea for the hotel is old fashioned. Nottingham gives Skeeter a chance to come up with his own ideas and possibly become hotel manager. Skeeter and Kendall vie for the attentions of Nottingham’s attractive, but spoiled daughter, Violet, who looks like Paris Hilton, but Skeeter is better suited to Jill, who is beautiful both inside and out.
Fantastic things happen as the bedtime stories are mirrored in the reality. In one story, Skeeter sees himself getting Nottingham’s daughter, whom he calls Princess Fashionista. Just as they’re about to kiss, however, the children imagine that a dwarf kicks Skeeter’s character, and the same thing happens in real life.
Sometimes, BEDTIME STORIES is funny, especially when it mocks political correctness and slams Communism. Often, however, it is contrived and over the top. Much of the movie is preoccupied with curvaceous women in low-cut dresses, swimsuits and practically nothing at all, as well as scatological humor such as wedgies or passing gas, with some sexual innuendo. Some of the routines are truly annoying and offensive.
Since there is no real jeopardy and nothing at stake to propel the story, the plot gets lost about halfway through the movie. From that point, it gets a bit dull and tedious. As far as children are concerned, there are some disgusting moments that the producers must have thought children would appreciate. There are also some deus ex machina story devices to get over the plot problems. The ending is fantastically illogical. This is the type of movie that wants to do the right thing, but can’t seem to do it.
Adam Sandler said he wanted to make a movie for his young children, but it seems as if Sandler didn’t understand that children want good stories first and foremost. He throws everything he can at the screen, often in a very shrill voice. Some of it sticks and some of it fails.
Sometimes, BEDTIME STORIES is funny, especially when it mocks political correctness. Often, it is contrived and over the top. The stakes are not high enough, so the plot gets lost about halfway through the movie. Much of the movie is preoccupied with curvaceous women in low-cut dresses and swimsuits, as well as gross humor, some foul language and some sexual innuendo. Some of the routines are truly annoying.