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Film / Bedtime Stories (2008)
aka: Bedtime Stories

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Bedtime Stories is a 2008 American fantasy comedy film. It was directed by Adam Shankman, with a screenplay by Matt Lopez and Tim Herlihy.

In the Magical Galactic Kingdom of Nottingham, Skeeter Bronson (Adam Sandler) is an unappreciated warrior from Greece. Well, not really.

In reality: Skeeter Bronson is a handyman in a hotel, in which he's been working for 25 years. Ever since his dad Marty Bronson (Jonathan Pryce) owned and ran it. In fact, when his dad sold the hotel to Mr. Nottingham (Richard Griffiths) (starting a hotel empire), Skeeter was promised to one day run it. Or so he hoped. You see, despite being a fabulous worker for the same hotel (well, two different buildings, but that's beside the point) he has been recently passed up to be the manager of the third building in that specific hotel's lineage within the empire in favor of the snotty Kendall Duncan (Guy Pearce), simply because he is dating Nottingham's daughter Violet (Teresa Palmer).


Meanwhile, Skeeter's sister, Wendy (Courteney Cox), needs to travel to Arizona in order to find a Job. She asks Skeeter to watch over her two kids Patrick (Jonathan Morgan Heit) and Bobbi (Laura Ann Kesling) during the night, while Wendy's friend Jill (Keri Russell) takes the day shift.

With nothing to do at the kids' home, Skeeter starts to tell bedtime stories in order to entertain the kids. These stories vary in theme, from Ancient Grome to Sci-Fi. The kids often throw in events to mix up the story, coming up with better stuff than Skeeter's Real Life events. When the events the kids throw into Skeeter's story affect Skeeter in real life, Skeeter uses this to his advantage.

This film is entirely unrelated to the 1979 Game Show produced by Merrill Heatter and Bob Quigley. Nor does it have anything to do with the Madonna album of the same name. And most especially not related with the similarly named YouTube series, which is definitely not for children either.Also unrelated to the David Niven and Marlon Brando film, Bedtime Story (1964).


This work provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Nonsapience: There's an In-Universe example meant to exploit a literal Life Imitates Art, in a subversion that involves an already normal beast turned into an inanimate object. Skeeter tries to abuse the power of a bedtime story (an alternate interpretation of the words of the story will happen in Real Life) by telling a Western where someone gives his Cowboy Author Avatar a red Ferrari (the horse) for free so that someone in real life would do the same for him but with a red Ferrari car. It doesn't work the way he expected.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: The wheatgrass cake at Bobbi's birthday party, which is a real thing.
  • Ancient Grome: The setting of one story, supposedly in "Ancient Greece" yet having clear Coliseum and Roman Emperor knockoffs, while his character's name is close to that of Spartacus, the famous gladiator turned slave revolt leader against the Romans.
  • Betty and Veronica: Blonde, sweet heiress Violet vs. the practical brown-haired teacher Jill.
  • Big Bad: Kendall Duncan is the newly-promoted hotel manager and arrogant rival of Skeeter Bronson, who wanted the position and spends the movie trying to get it from him, eventually culminating in Skeeter trying to stop him from demolishing the school of his niece and nephew to build a new hotel.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Mickey does this every time he falls asleep, complete with screaming. Justified as a sleep panic disorder.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • Skeeter. Just watch the scene where he introduces Mr. Nottingham to the audience.
    • It only makes sense that another Cloudcuckoolander, Mickey, has to "translate" for him after his tongue gets stung by a bee at Mr. Nottingham's party.
  • Cool Uncle: Skeeter tries to be this to his niece and nephew.
  • Company Cross References:
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Kendall. Seriously, the guy wants to blow up a school to make a new hotel, going over the foreman's head to check the building when Wendy can't find Bobbi and Patrick, who were in said school that was going to get blown up, and taunts Skeeter repeatedly throughout the film just because his dad's hotel wouldn't have stayed open without Mr. Nottingham's intervention.
  • Derailed Fairy Tale: The kids interrupt Skeeter's stories with their own wild ideas— with the added twist that everything they suggest actually happens.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Happens In-Universe in Skeeter's last story. After he wins in his story, the kids add that he gets incinerated, because, apparently, it's more real, much to his frustration.
  • Disappeared Dad: Bobbi and Patrick's dad has left the family (why or where to isn't explained). At one point Bobbi plaintively asks if he'll ever come back, at which Skeeter says he doesn't know, but that their mom will always be there for them both (along with him).
  • Disgusting Vegetarian Food: Nobody wants to eat the gluten-free wheatgrass cake served as Bobbi's birthday party (which was her mother's choice, rather than hers).
  • Famous for Being Famous: Violet Nottingham is a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Paris Hilton (young, blond 20-something hotel heiress celebutante notorious for partying and winding up in the tabloids). As such, she fits this trope quite well.
  • Hates Being Touched: Barry is a germophobe and hates being touched, and fires Skeeter after getting cake all over him. However, he eventually gets over this, and in the epilogue, it's said that he became a school nurse.
  • Head-Turning Beauty: Violet is described as being "hot" by almost every character in the film.
  • Her Code Name Was "Mary Sue": Subverted in the first story. In other stories Skeeter keeps trying this, but the kids keep interjecting, up to "ruining" his final story.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: Near the climax, Skeeter and Jill steal one of motorbikes in order to stop Kendall from blowing up Bobbi and Patrick's school along with them inside.
    Skeeter: This is for a good cause!
  • Idea Bulb: Skeeter is fixing the wiring on a lamp, and it just happens to come on when he realizes that the kids control the stories.
  • It's Been Done: Kendall's theme for the new hotel was going to be rock and roll, but when Skeeter points out how the Hard Rock hotel has run on this theme for years, Mr. Nottingham gives Skeeter a chance to think up a better theme that can get him in charge.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Skeeter has shades of this; although he's sarcastic, rude, selfish and defiant, he's still a hard worker, kind to his niece and nephew, helps Violet when she's mobbed by paparazzi, and ultimately saves the school and rescues the kids.
  • Large Ham: Guy Pearce seems to be having entirely too much fun as Kendall.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Kendall and his girlfriend, who relentlessly taunt and mock Skeeter throughout the film, end up as the staff of Skeeter's new hotel at the end.
  • Malaproper: Patrick, being a young child, has some gems like "incineratated" and "underdemeciated". The first clue that the stories are affecting events in the real world is when other people start using the same malapropisms.
  • Match Cut: The transitions into the bedtime story sequences make prominent use of match cuts.
  • Meat Versus Veggies: Skeeter's sister Wendy raises her kids on a strict vegetarian diet, e.g. a gluten-free wheatgrass cake that nobody eats at Bobbi's birthday party. Skeeter has trouble making them breakfast using various foods from her kitchen, asking "Doesn't your mother have taste buds?", and later gets them burgers for dinner.
  • Mocking Music: After the kids finish a story that has Skeeter's character set on fire and disintegrated, all the songs on Skeeter's radio have to do with fire: "Disco Inferno," "Eternal Flame," "I'm On Fire," and others.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Violet is often revealing outfits that bare her cleavage, both in the stories and in reality.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: Skeeter finishes his first tale with his character getting eaten by alligators.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Skeeter telling the kids that there are no happy endings near the beginning gets him fired near the end after the kids make a story with a bad ending, saying they want their story to be "real".
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Teresa Palmer plays Violet Nottingham: a young, blond 20-something hotel heiress celebutante notorious for partying and winding up in the tabloids.
    • Her father, Barry, too: a hotel billionaire with an extreme fear of germs.
  • Parental Substitute: Bobbi and Patrick's dad has left them. Their uncle Skeeter essentially fills the role for them in the film.
  • Pet the Dog: When Violet watches the kids for a minute early in the film, she is very nice, treats them well, and takes an interest in their romantic life. It is an early sign that Violet isn't a bad person, just a bit of a spoiled Daddy's Girl with tabloid issues.
  • Posthumous Character: Skeeter's father, Marty Bronson, who acts as The Narrator.
  • Rain of Something Unusual: The children that Skeeter is telling a story to interrupt his tale with gumball rain. Because the stories supposedly comes to life, Skeeter is caught in the middle of a gumball rainfall when he's driving home. The camera reveals that it's the result of a gumball truck crashing into a pillar on the road above him.
  • Reality Warper: The kids are this, to some degree. The changes the stories make to real events only work through things that are physically possible or reasonable. Gumballs can't actually rain from the sky, but a truck full of gumballs can spill its load over the edge of a tall bridge.
  • Straw Vegetarian: Wendy refuses to let her kids have any junk food (although it's not mentioned if she forbids them from eating meat specifically), serves a gluten-free wheatgrass cake at her daughter's birthday party, and does other stereotypical "hippie parent" stuff like not having a TV or video games in the house and reading her children bedtime stories like "Rainbow Alligator Saves the Wetlands". When Skeeter brings chocolate chip cookies to said party, she asks why he has to bring "sugary chemical-filled crud" to her house every time he visits.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: In one of Skeeter's stories, the six-year-old Patrick makes the main character of the story catch on fire. Skeeter worries that the incinerated character represents him (probably because his name, Skeeto, was similar to his own name) and becomes paranoid that he's going to catch fire. When listening to the car radio, all the songs have fire-related lyrics (Burn Baby Burn, I'm on Fire, etc).
  • Terrified of Germs: Barry Nottingham is a perfectly nice, friendly authority figure, but is utterly terrified of germs, to the point where when Skeeter needs to talk with him in his hotel suite, Nottingham insists they converse in near-total darkness simply because germs produce 80% faster in light. By the end of the film, Skeeter manages to help him out of it, to the point where in the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, Nottingham had decided to go to medical school and became a school nurse.
  • Tomboyish Name: Bobbi, Skeeter's niece. This may be a nickname (for Roberta?) though it's never said. She isn't a Tomboy otherwise.
  • Waking Non Sequitur: Mickey screams "I'm innocent!" after waking himself up with an attack of his "sleep panic disorder".
  • Wealthy Ever After: Skeeter's Best Friend Mickey who was a hotel waiter and ends up marrying hotel heiress Violet and becoming the 9th richest person in the world.
  • Where Are They Now
    • Barry Nottingham becomes the new school nurse for Webster Elementary after going to medical school.
    • Mickey and Violet get married, taking over Barry's hotel empire.
    • Skeeter and Jill officially get married.
    • So does Bugsy the guinea pig, who goes on to have a lot of big-eyed babies.
    • Kendall and Aspen end up working for Skeeter at his hotel.

Alternative Title(s): Bedtime Stories