DVD Release Date:  April 7, 2009
Theatrical Release Date:  December 25, 2008
Rating:  PG (for some mild rude humor and mild language)
Genre:  Comedy, Family
Run Time:  95 min.
Director:  Adam Shankman
Actors:  Adam Sandler, Keri Russell, Guy Pearce, Russell Brand, Lucy Lawless, Courtney Cox, Carmen Electra, Laura Ann Kelsing, Jonathan Morgan Heit, Richard Griffiths

Adam Sandler has always had a particular brand of bawdy, push-the-envelope humor that’s been the centerpiece for everything from his first big leading role in 1995’s Billy Madison to this past summer’s You Don’t Mess with the Zohan.

As far as family flicks go, however, the closest that Sandler has ever gotten to making one was 1999’s Big Daddy—and that’s mostly because a kid was his very impressionable sidekick for the majority of it (cue the scene where Sandler’s character teaches the perpetually weak-bladdered kid to urinate against the wall outside—yeah, not exactly your typical Disney material).

But now that Sandler has a couple of daughters of his own, he wanted to steer his career in a new direction—albeit briefly given that he’s starring in a Judd Apatow comedy in 2009—by making a movie that kids could enjoy and subsequently, wouldn’t cause their parents to squirm in their seats. And from both a moral and artistic level, he’s mostly succeeded with the imaginative yet strikingly unpretentious fable Bedtime Stories.

In true Sandler fashion, the goofy, I’ll-never-grow-up persona and all its accompanying rambling vocal nuances are still intact. Unlike many of his previous comedies where the act gets a little cloying, it actually works well with his role as Skeeter. With the goal of running of Dad’s hotel always in the back of his mind (something his father promised “once he grows up”), Skeeter’s life has taken a major left turn. Relegated to the role as a handyman after the place is sold to a developer named Barry Nottingham (Richard Griffiths of Harry Potter fame), Skeeter hopes he’ll be part of Barry’s latest business endeavor—a brand new, even bigger hotel.

Skeeter’s hopes are immediately put on hold (again) when Barry enlists the services of a slimy corporate liaison named Kendall Duncan (Guy Pearce). Clearly relishing his role as the evil schemer who gets in the way of the good guy’s ambitions, Pearce hams it up in a way that seriously belies his acting talent. There’s no subtle here, just a clear delineation of good and evil that doesn’t exactly give its younger audience much credit. Thankfully, that particular storyline isn’t the one that’ll probably stick in most kids’ minds anyway.

Joining Skeeter in the everything’s-not-exactly-going-right department is his sister Wendy (Courtney Cox). If having her husband leave her and the kids wasn’t bad enough, she’s also recently lost her job as an elementary school principal. There is a great job opportunity in Arizona, however, if she can find someone to look after the kids, Patrick (Jonathan Morgan Heit) and Bobbi (Laura Ann Kesling). While her friend Jill (Keri Russell) has the day shift covered, Wendy eventually asks Skeeter if he’ll stop by at night. Of course, like a good brother he agrees, but he’s got to do something—anything—to entertain the kids since Wendy doesn’t even own a TV and only has a slew of silly, politically-correct books that have about as much appeal as a plate full of spinach for dinner.