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A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

Bedtime Stories [Blu-ray]


(Adam Shankman, 2008)



Review by Leonard Norwitz


Studio: Happy Madison/Gunn Films/Offspring

Blu-ray: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:39:13.989

Disc Size: 32,683,804,524 bytes

Feature Size: 22,616,272,896 bytes

Average Bitrate: 30.39 Mbps

Chapters: 20

Case: Custom Blu-ray case

Release date: April 5th, 2009



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video






DTS-HD Master Audio English 3937 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3937 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps



English, French, Spanish, none



• Bloopers (6:48)

• Deleted Scenes (10:26)

• Get to Know Bugsy the Guinea Pig  (3:42)

• Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Special Effects (4:00)

• To All the Little People (5:24)

• D-Box Motion Enabled

• Disc 2: Digital Copy

• Disc 3: DVD of the feature film

• BD-Live



The Movie : 6

Marty Bronson (Jonathan Pryce) has raised his young children in his well-situated Beverly Hills motel to believe that things will work out if only you believe in the bedtime stories he would read to them every night.  Well, intentions aside, Marty turns out to be not much of a businessman and eventually has to sell out to Barry Nottingham (Richard Griffiths).  Cut to 25 years later and Marty's son, Skeeter (Adam Sandler) works as a gofer and handyman for Nottingham's hotel, built on the same location as his Bronson's motel.  Oh, did I mention that past of the original sale agreement was that Barry would make Skeeter manager?  Needless to say this doesn't happen and Skeeter thinks too little of himself to insist.


By this time, Skeeter's sister Wendy (Courtney Cox) has two young children of her own: Patrick (Jonathan Morgan Heit) and Bobbi (Laura Ann Kesling), but needs to have a few days off for an out of town interview.  She asks Skeeter to do the babysitting chore, something that for all his experience being read to by his dad, he feels surprisingly unqualified for.  Skeeter gets help from Wendy's friend Jill (Keri Russell): she covers the nights and he takes days.  Skeeter and Jill do not meet cute.


The plot thickens when Nottingham decided to make his future son-in-law Kendall (Guy Pearce) the manager of a new hotel project.  Meanwhile Skeeter discovers that his nephew and niece appear to have unusual magical powers: As he invents bedtime stories of his own for them – this is where the special effects wizards get to spend their money – the kids rewrite them on the spot, and somehow their versions have a curious way of materializing in the real world.  Skeeter soon sees the potential for realizing his father's ambition – if only he could get the hang of how it all works.



While not as inane as some of Adam Sandler's material of late (Little Nicky, Deuce Bigalow), Bedtime Stories, which has an imaginative premise, bogs down with unnecessary and implausible plot turns, and by the end I want to throw up my hands in astonishment that such an asset has been so squandered.  Anyhow, the point here doesn't seem to be that we accept the reality created by the movie so much as that we indulge the faith required to accept it.


Image: 9/9  NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale.  The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

A word of caution about calibration: There are some movies, Bedtime Stories is a prime example, where a little too much saturation can wipe out an image.  Not just detail, but what chance the movie has to do its magic thing can be subverted by an overzealous setting.  So, be warned.  Once dialed in correctly, this Disney Blu-ray is quite the engaging piece of imagework.  Colors are natural and varied, with an appropriate bump for the fantasy scenes.  I observed no worrisome artifacts, noise or enhancements.















Audio & Music: 6/7

Movies that are not obviously designed to show off one's home theatre might never get the chance to reveal themselves, but Bedtime Stories let's us know the score early on when Skeeter tests the P.A. system at the hotel.  It's a subtle but effective test for your surround system.  I couldn't help smiling.  Elsewhere, especially in the bedtime story sequences, the mix gets the better of itself and tries to rip us out of our seats in helter-skelter fashion.  So sad.


Operations: 9

Disney has some of the best menu designs on high def, and this one is no exception.  Every click of the remote reveals more information about where you are or where you're going.  Now they even added a temporary chapter and time line pop-up when you change scenes. A point off for the flip-page architecture.




Extras: 5

There's not a whole lot here, not that much is really called for, but at least it's all in very good quality high definition.  "To All the Little People" is a behind-the-scenes perspective by the young actors in the movie.  Even when the adults are speaking I couldn't help feel they're scripted by the kids.  Very sweet.  The special effects segment is given remarkable short shrift.  This Blu-ray edition offers both a digital copy disc and a DVD of the feature film.



Recommendation: 5

A great looking image is not enough to salvage this stew of clichés.  Too bad, really.  The movie has so much going for it; a clever premise and an amusing character or two: not least Russell Brand as best friend and Teresa Palmer as Nottingham's princess daughter looking too good to wish her harm.  The kids are the usual precocious variety but somehow win us over again and again.  Sandler plays his usual nebbish self who discovers himself through children. Somehow I still can't see him and Keri Russell in the same frame – at least not on intimate terms.

Leonard Norwitz
April 27th, 2009



About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.

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