At the Movies | Life is just a gumball shower

I really wanted to see … well, anything else. “The Wrestler.” “Slumdog Millionaire.” “Doubt.” But my young nieces were in tow, so we had to think a little differently. Whicb is how we ended up at Colonial Mall-Staunton on Christmas Day watching Adam Sandler in “Bedtime Stories,” a surprisingly decent holiday movie even in spite of the fact that it starred Sandler and also necessarily featured the expected cameo appearance by Sandler sycophant Rob Schneider.

The storyline is basic for Sandler fare – he plays a goofy ne’er-do-well (think “Big Daddy” in this case) who gets passed over for the job of managing the hotel that his father had promised to pass on to him one day in favor of a slickster and is thus resigned to forever being the maintenance man. But things turn around when his estranged sister (played by Courteney Cox), an uptight, to say the very least, elementary-school principal, asks him to babysit her overprotected children (think wheat-germ birthday cakes) for a week.

What happens is the bedtime stories that he tells the young’uns, spiced up by their suddenly unleashed imaginations, start coming to life, which is how we get the gumball shower, and later an angry dwarf interrupting a tete-a-tete between the maintenance man and the Paris Hilton-inspired tycoon fille.

The Schneider cameo and the sappy happy ending notwithstanding, I thought the script, from newbie Matt Lopez and Tom Herlihy (an old “Saturday Night Live” Sandler pal), and the direction by Adam Shankman (late of “Prop 8: The Musical” fame), stayed within the bounds of what I would consider appropriately kid-friendly.

Courteney Cox, for her part, was Demi Moore-like in terms of how it jumped out to me on the big screen that she had to have had some work done to her visage. Remember when Moore redebuted in one of those bad “Charlie’s Angels” flicks a few years back and appeared to be a cyborg sent from the future in place of the old Demi? Yeah. That’s what we get from the “Friends” co-star here. And we had a Keri Russell sighting. The former “Felicity” star plays the Sandler love interest in this one.

(And if you pay close attention, there’s Lucy Lawless for your viewing pleasure. Though I have to say I didn’t realize it was her until I researched the movie on IMDB before writing this review.)

 

– Column by Chris Graham

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