Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
"Bedtime Stories" is not my cup of tea. Even the saucer. Fairness requires me to report, however, that it may appeal to, as they say, "kids of all ages." I am not a kid of any age and do not qualify, but this is a harmless and pleasant Disney comedy and one of only three family movies playing over the holidays. It will therefore win the box-office crown big time, with Adam Sandler crushing Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Mickey Rourke, Samuel L. Jackson, Kate Winslet and others not in harmless Disney comedies. "The Tale of Despereaux" and "Marley & Me" also qualify as family films, although some parents may be frightened by Marley the dog.
Sandler plays a hotel handyman named Skeeter, which is a name even more unwise than Hussein if you want your child to run for president. His dear old dad ran a family motel at the corner of Sunset and La Cienega, an unlikely story, and was bought out by Nottingham the hotel tycoon (Richard Griffiths), who erected a towering heap of rooms on the site and put Skeeter in charge of changing the light bulbs. Now Skeeter is also in charge of the overnight maintenance work and his niece and nephew while his sister (Courteney Cox) looks for work in Arizona.
The kids (Laura Ann Kesling and Jonathan Morgan Heit) want to be told bedtime stories, and Skeeter spins some terrific ones -- so terrific, the movie's budget seems to be the best-kept secret this season. Literally hundreds of special-effects technicians labored to visualize Skeeter's fantasies, which involve a zero-gravity battle in outer space, a cowboy with a bright red horse, a medieval king, a gladiator and so on. The kids start providing their own output, the stories have a weird way of coming true in real life, Skeeter tries to slant them to affect future events, and as you know from the film's poster, gumballs rain from above.
Intercut with this folderol are (a) Skeeter's rivalry with Nottingham's evil hotel manager (Guy Pearce) for the hand of Nottingham's daughter (Teresa Palmer), (b) an attempt to save an eco-friendly school run by his sister's best friend (Keri Russell), and (c) reaction shots by Bugsy, the kids' pet guinea pig, whose hyperthyroid eyes the size of half dollars are not cute. Sort of sad, really. Almost scary.