A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, unlike most Adam Sandler movies, this one is actually aimed at kids, so expect a lot of interest from elementary schoolers on up. The good news is that, also unlike most Sandler movies, there aren't any crass jokes, and both language ("butt kiss" is as wild as it gets) and sexuality (a couple of fairy-tale kisses and one brief scene of a clothed man and woman in a hot tub) are mild. The violence is also minor and mostly cartoonish, although there's some gunplay in the Wild West bedtime story.
What's the story?
Adam Sandler plays Skeeter Bronson, a hotel handyman who agrees to babysit his newly divorced sister Wendy's (Courteney Cox) two kids -- with the help of Wendy's friend Jill (Kerri Russell) -- while she goes to an out-of-state job interview. While he's taking care of his niece and nephew, Skeeter begins a nightly tradition of telling bedtime stories the children contribute to, only to realize the next day that even outlandish aspects of the story are coming true. Seizing the opportunity, Skeeter uses the magical tales to get a shot at running the hotel his father once owned -- if he can prove himself worthier than the hotel's brown-nosing manager, Kendall (Guy Pearce).
Is it any good?
After a long list of crude movies that have kept Sandler secure in his reign as the king of drunken-frat boy comedies, this is his first real family film, and it's pleasant enough. (His 2002 Hanukkah comedy Eight Crazy Nights is animated, but it's not for kids.) Though not particularly original, it's sure to crack up the kiddies (what other purpose does the bug-eyed guinea pig have?). And die-hard Sandler fans will even find a few of his signature touches -- his goofy scat-talking, a beautiful blond to ogle (Teresa Palmer), a silly sidekick (a scene-stealing Russell Brand), and even a Rob Schneider cameo.
That said, as a fantasy comedy, BEDTIME STORIES falls far short of a family classic. Cute? Yes. But memorable? Not really. It's no Princess Bride. What is remarkable is that, stripped of all his graphic humor, Sandler is capable of starring in a comedy that's appropriate for even young kids. And utlimately, it's hard not to be charmed by the message that you should never stop trying to make your dreams a reality.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this movie is different from most of Sandler's other films. He isn't known for making family-friendly films -- why do you think he decided to make this one? Is it a success without his signature crass jokes?
Families can also discuss what makes a good fairy tale. How does the film itself, along with each bedtime story, follow the storyline of a traditional fairy tale?
- In theaters: December 25, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: April 7, 2009
- Cast: Adam Sandler, Courteney Cox, Keri Russell
- Director: Adam Shankman
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and fantasy
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild rude humor and mild language.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.