In a bleak holiday movie season filled with Nazis, the end of the human race, and dysfunctional families, "Bedtime Stories" offers moviegoers a ray of hope. Like a celluloid Tiny Tim, "Bedtime Stories" brings a message of good will.
Opening like a classic fairy tale, "Bedtime Stories" tells of Skeeter Bronson (Adam Sandler), a lovable, underachieving handyman whose dream is to run the Sunny Vista Hotel. The property used to belong to Skeeter's father, who lost it to Barry Nothingham (Richard Griffiths), a British hotel mogul.
This goal seems out of reach until something more impossible happens: While baby-sitting his niece and nephew, Skeeter discovers that for some reason (never explained to the audience), the stories the children make up at night are coming true in his real life.
Naturally, Skeeter tries to manipulate the stories to his benefit. They always end with him running the hotel and dating Mr. Nothingham's Paris Hilton-like daughter, Violet (Teresa Palmer).
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There is a catch, of course. Skeeter finds himself at the mercy of his niece and nephew, who don't understand his obsession with the same boring ending. Rather than being superficial, the children constantly push Skeeter toward the girl next door, Jill (Keri Russell), and the path of goodness.
Despite appearing to have a big role in "Bedtime Stories," the children fall victim to the Sandler effect, confined to periodic cameos throughout the movie. Although the supporting cast is filled with comedy pros, including Courteney Cox, Russell Brand and Jonathan Pryce, their characters are poorly developed and underused.
Like other Adam Sandler films, "Bedtime Stories" is all about Adam Sandler. He tries hard to dumb down his humor to suit the younger audience.
For all its shortcomings, "Bedtime Stories" sends an important message (reinforced by the constant background tune of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing"): No matter what setbacks you face, don't stop working for what you believe in.
It's a little sappy and very predictable, but who cares? When the protagonist/good guy wins out in the end, we go home feeling as upbeat as Tiny Tim.