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The Independent Critic

Adam Sandler, Keri Russell, Courteney Cox, Guy Pearce
Adam Shankman
Matt Lopez, Tim Herlihy
Rated PG
95 Mins.

 "Bedtime Stories" Review 
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Why am I recommending "Bedtime Stories," Adam Sandler's latest flick?

Is it Adam Sandler at his finest? Ummm, No. Actually, Adam Sandler could do this role in his sleep.

Is it a return to the great days of Disney past? Again, Nope. That was "Enchanted," and "Bedtime Stories" is nowhere near as entertaining as "Enchanted."

Ah, okay. Then, it must be a return to schoolboy Sandler? Well, kinda sorta. Actually, "Bedtime Stories" IS an attempt by Sandler to meld together his brand of comedy with a film that his own children can see.

Bingo. That's it. "Bedtime Stories" is light, funny, good-hearted and reasonably entertaining Sandler in a fairly typical family friendly Disney flick.

Yep, that's it.

"Bedtime Stories" isn't brilliant, but neither is it a cinematic travesty. It simply works for what it is.

Let's face it, the pickins' are slim for families this holiday season. If you haven't seen "Four Christmases" by now, then odds are you don't plan on it. For a family friendly experience, "Bedtime Stories" is the best of the 2008 holiday.

Sandler plays Skeeter, a hotel handyman whose nightly duties also include watching over the welfare of his sister's (Courteney Cox) two kids (Laura Ann Kesling and Jonathan Morgan Heit) while she's off looking for work. As one might guess from the film's title, the two kids love bedtime stories and, as one might also gather, these bedtime stories have a tendency to come to life.

Throw into the mix Skeeter's romantic rival (Guy Pearce), a side story about his attempts to help save an eco-friendly school run by his sister's best friend (Keri Russell) and Sandler's customary offbeat sidekick )Russell Brand) and you have the makings of a fairly mainstream, predictable and yet entertaining family comedy.

If you don't care for Sandler's brand of comedy, then there's little to no chance you'll give a hoot about the PG-rated version of a Sandler film. Think of all the sweet, adorable parts in "Billy Madison" or "The Wedding Singer" without all the naughty parts tossed in...there you have "Bedtime Stories."

The thing is I actually like this Sandler. I enjoy immensely his ability to mix silliness with sweetness, stupidity with fundamental social insights. Sandler's comedy here is basic and predictable, but it's also endearing, sweet and frequently funny.

Sandler's also secure enough that he allows those around him to shine, most notably a hilarious Russell Brand and a delightful Keri Russell. Brand is a solid comic counterpart for Sandler, much in the way that Allen Covert has served in several of Sandler's films (Covert does make a brief appearance in this film). Russell, on the other hand, has a nice gift for mixing silliness and comedy and, as a result, displays a nice chemistry with Sandler.

As the story, penned by Matt Lopez and Tim Herlihy, winds its way through such scenarios as the Old West, ancient Rome and outer space, there's never a doubt that everything is leading towards Skeeter's shot at redemption and valuable life lessons for all.

Linda DeScenna's production design does a nice job of pulling off the journey through varying cultures, while Rupert Gregson-Williamson's musical score is a nice complement to the well paced scenes along with the film's nicely chosen soundtrack.

What can I say? I admit it. I like this Adam Sandler, and director Adam Shankman ("Hairspray") has done a nice job of blending the heart and spirit of Disney with the humor and heart of Sandler. The result is exactly what one might hope...This "Bedtime Stories" really does come to life!

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic