While most film studios floundered around, trying to pawn off their mistakes during the first three months and then believing all anybody wanted to see during the summer were films from comic books, Disney Studios remained true to its founder. They attempted and succeeded in bringing clever, touching and often funny concepts to the big screen.
COLLEGE ROAD TRIP (Slapstick with a heart.) $45,588,608
CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN (More action driven than the first episode, but lavish, inspirational and fun.) $141,614,023
SWING VOTE (Somewhat inventive satire about ethics.) $16,284,360
BEVERLY HILLS CHIHUAHUA (“We’re Mexican, not Mexican’t!”) $90,878,127
HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 3 (First there was Gidget and Moondoogie, then Frankie and Annette, now Zac and Vanessa.) $86,821,000
WALL•E (Aided by Pixar, Disney gave life to a trash compactor.) $223,280,427
BOLT (You gotta see it for the pigeons. They’re the new penguins!)
TINKERBELL (It came out on DVD in October, but was crafted as well as any animated theatrical release.)
And to finish off the year, BEDTIME STORIES (Adam Sandler plays a guy named Skeeter whose bedtime tales start coming true.)
Okay, though not a stinker, SWING VOTE, about a slacker who finds himself having to cast the winning presidential vote, wasn’t a blockbuster. And COLLEGE ROAD TRIP, though it did very well at the box office, had to be graded on a curve. Martin Lawrence in a G-rated movie? Points for that. However, it’s also a comedy where mugging, eye-rolling and a whole lot of slapstick passed for wittiness. But Disney Studios proved it appreciated America’s traditional values with films such as PRINCE CASPIAN and HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 3.
And to complete their list of audience pleasers, Adam Sandler now stars in his first family-aimed comedy, BEDTIME STORIES. The usually crude SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE alumni stars as Skeeter Bronson, a hotel handyman whose life is changed when the nighttime tales he makes up for his niece and nephew start to mysteriously come true. It’s a kid-clever movie, with Mr. Sandler his usual droll, funny self. But what’s truly unique about this film is that it’s Adam Sandler – and Russell Brand from FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL – doing mother-agreeable comedy. That’s right, this is one you can take the kids to and not have to cover their eyes at one point.
I was recently at a press conference that featured the entire cast. Both Sandler and Brand were hysterical. I’ll leave you with a few lines from the interview that left me in stitches. That said, their brands of humor are best aided when you can hear their inflections and see their antics. So, I recommend you attend their new film. It may be the only chance you get to see these two be funny in a family-friendly forum.
Cockney comedian Russell Brand, who plays Sandler’s coworker, was asked what he’ll get others for Christmas: “Well, for me mom, a house. You know, she raised me in her womb for nine months. So I thought I’d give something back. It’s either a womb or a house.”
Asked why Adam Sandler chose this script: “I have kids now and always wanted to do a family film. As a kid every night we’d watch a Disney movie. Kurt Russell starred in most of them. Well, I want to be the modern-day Kurt Russell. Come to think of it, I live in his old house. I have his old mussels. And of course, he has a very Semitic look.
“No, but I loved Matt Lopez’s script. I thought it was sweet. And I knew Adam Shankman [the director] was there to bring a very visual, creative style. Most kids wind up seeing my movies, but their mothers yell at me and tell me I’ve corrupted their child. So I wanted to make sure that I did one movie in my career that mothers hugged me for.”
The inevitable question arose, did Adam Sandler tell bedtime tales to his little ones? “I try to read bedtime stories to my kids, but I’m not great at it. It’s supposed to put the kid to sleep. My kid gets riled up. My wife has to come in and says, ‘All right, get out of the room.’”
Sandler’s little girl is old enough to see the film, so the star was given a DVD of the final production for his child to see: “Yeah, well, she’s seen some of it. Well, first I have to tell you that we have a dog named Baboo. So, I brought a DVD of BEDTIME STORIES home and showed it to Sadie, who’s two and a half. Well, she watched an hour of it and then she started saying, ‘Later, later.’ And I said, nah, let’s finish it. ‘Later, later.’ By now I want my kid to see the whole film. Again, with ‘later, later.’ Finally, she says to the dog, ‘Baboo, eat Daddy’s movie.’ Alright…it’s not a good review.”
Is it harder for you to work clean? “It wasn’t that bad. It felt good. There really isn’t much difference. I just didn’t swear or hit anybody. I do want to make more family-friendly movies. I feel good doing them. But it’s not going to be my way of life. I’m a comedian and I have fun doing different types of movies.”
One of my colleagues asked the cast, “If there is one thing you’d like people to take away from this film, what would it be?"
Russell Brand quickly interjected in his cockney manner: “Their litter.”
And so it went.
BEDTIME STORIES opens on Christmas day.