Adam Sandler is the Benign Family-Comedy Guy in Bedtime Stories

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Bedtime Stories
Directed by Adam Shankman
Walt Disney Pictures
Opens December 25

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While no one was expecting the live-wire daring of Punch-Drunk Love or even You Don't Mess With the Zohan, the Adam Sandler who shows up in Bedtime Stories is that most unnecessary of movie-star guises: the benign family-comedy guy. Playing his usual underdog role, Sandler is Skeeter, a lowly Los Angeles handyman recruited by his sister (Courteney Cox) to babysit her two children (Jonathan Morgan Heit and Laura Ann Kesling) while she's out of town. In the hopes of bonding with the youngsters, he entertains them with made-up bedtime stories, but once events in the stories start happening in real life, he realizes that the kids' narrative input has some sort of magical effect. Directed by Adam Shankman (The Pacifier) in his traditional bright-shiny-silly way, Bedtime Stories is too typical of what passes for live-action family filmmaking these days, throwing together saccharine sentiments, mindless comedic action, and scenes of unusually affluent family life in the hopes of crafting a gleaming entertainment that's always in motion and won't offend anyone. (But, on that note, is Guy Pearce's evil hotel manager supposed to be gay or just, y'know, exceptionally prissy?) Because Bedtime Stories has Sandler in it, a little loopiness still creeps in around the edges—the best bit has to do with a character's odd cell phone ring—but the twitchy anxiety that once powered his persona has given way to a doughy anonymity. Parental advisory: There is a Rob Schneider cameo.

 
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