When the Happy Madison logo appears alongside Disney, you should probably expect something different. Bedtime Stories provides. Adam Sandler tones it down for the younger set, and delivers a light-hearted performance that wins the viewer over with its laughs.
The concept, one that puts Sandler in a number of scenarios from the Wild West to ancient Greece, is engaging enough for kids. This is where the action happens, delivering energetic stories as he tells them to his niece and nephew before they fall asleep. The hook is that whatever happens in the story occurs the following day in the real world. This sets up character development, a fast moving romance, and a funny finale in which Sandler is terrified of fire.
Armed with a supporting cast of Keri Russell, Courtney Cox, and Russell Brand, Bedtime Stories is quickly paced. Downtime is minimal, and the rapid set-up ensures the kids won’t lose interest. Obviously, nothing in Stories is too deep or complex, leaving Sandler out there as a simple man you can root for.
The trailers push the concept of the stories coming true, which is only partially correct. Sandler doesn’t suddenly transport into space (and into a funny sci-fi parody), as it’s merely the means for the movie to tell these tales. The real action affects Sandler’s real life on a day-to-day basis, more or less on sheer coincidence. This one doesn’t run and take the concept into a number of goofy directions, although the hokey-pokey might have gone too far to remain in a relatively logical family comedy.
Director Adam Shankman knows how to make these light comedies work, and Bedtime Stories may be enough to forgive him for The Pacifier. Stories isn’t a classic family film, but at 90 minutes, it’s breezy fun that makes you smile, plus delivers some genuine laughs along the way. Plus, it has a guinea pig with bug eyes. That’s comedy gold.
Disney delivers a fair and consistent AVC encode, but that consistency doesn’t equal greatness. Flesh tones carry a pinkish tone throughout, and the black levels never quite reach a level where the image delivers depth. Shadow delineation is fine, although detail can be rather sparse despite the solid sharpness level.
Faces never glisten with wrinkles and pores like the best transfers, and a minor over processing look dominates the entire film. A brief noise problem occurs at the 51-minute mark. Color is bold and bright, perfect for a kids movie and nice to look at.
A DTS-HD Master mix has some impressive moments, particularly the Greek chariot ride story. Here the horses hooves hit the ground with force, lighting up the subwoofer with excellent lows. Some fine surround work occurs when gumballs start raining down on Sandler’s truck, as paparazzi click their cameras on a sidewalk, and during a rainstorm. Positionals are otherwise absent, delivering a center-loaded mix that handles dialogue well.
A rather flat set of features is featurette-loaded, beginning with Until Gravity Do Us Part, exploring the visual effects of the space sequence. It’s Bugsy is a short four minute piece on the guinea pig, and To All the Little People gives the child actors their due. A funny selection of outtakes (especially from Rob Schneider) run just over six minutes, and some deleted scenes crack the 10-minute mark. Some trailers, D-Box support, and Disney’s typical BD-Live menu offer everything the disc has. A DVD copy and Digital Copy are also crammed into the case.