Skeeter Bronson (Adam Sandler) chats with Violet Nottingham (Teresa Palmer) in Disney's Bedtime Stories.
Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures © 2008
PG - some material may not be suitable for children; some mild rude humor and mild language
December 25, 2008
Adam Sandler, Keri Russell, Guy Pearce, Russell Brand, Richard Griffiths, Teresa Palmer, Lucy Lawless, Courteney Cox, Jonathan Morgan Heit, Laura Ann Kesling, Jonathan Pryce
Screenplay by Matt Lopez and Tim Herlihy; story by Matt Lopez
Walt Disney Pictures
A Happy Madison Production, Gunn Films, and Offspring Entertainment Production
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'Bedtime Stories': Destiny at Your Doorstep
By Laura J. Bagby
CBN.com Sr. Producer
It is so easy to blame others for your own lack of success. Perhaps dad lacked the means and the will to ensure your future legacy. Or maybe you were unfairly treated by a boss who should have given you a raise and title change years ago but instead decided to give key responsibility and power to his upcoming son-in-law. Or you have been cheated out of spending time with the love of your life by some studly GQ bachelor who knows how to wheedle his way into the heart of your crush’s heart. Or maybe you just believe that your life is somehow in the hands of other well-meaning, but ultimately unrealistic and immature relatives.
If that’s you, you certainly aren’t alone. In fact you have a Disney star to back each of those claims. His name is Skeeter Bronson (played by Adam Sandler), a hotel handyman who mistakenly thinks that he doesn’t really have proper control of his life path and openly admits that there are no happy endings in Disney’s newest Christmas release, Bedtime Stories.
But when his niece and nephew challenge his perspective in the retelling of his own life through magical bedtime stories, Skeeter begins to see that there is another side to the coin. He can, in fact, reclaim his life goals.
I want to pause for one caveat. Now, to be fair, Matt Lopez, who came up with the original idea for the new Disney film and who was one of the film's two scriptwriters, never intended this vision on screen. He was just looking to portray some comedic fun.
As he said in the press junket for the movie, “It was just about the fun of storytelling. . . I have a lot of fun with the notion that he [Skeeter] thinks he is in control of them [the bedtime stories], and for a while, he sort of it in control of them. But not really.”
However, whether originally intended or not, I still see this concept of truly owning your destiny evident throughout the film.
Wrestling with this issue of control throughout the film – swinging from the concept of an orphan mentality where there is crushed, frustrated hopes to the incorrect and manipulative “I can have everything I want for free” perspective, Skeeter finally reaches the center point to the fulcrum when he learns that with personal empowerment comes responsibility.
He can’t “make life happen” when doing so would injure others. It is almost as if a greater power is blocking those selfish moves. For instance, in several of the bedtime retellings, when the rescued damsel in distress asks in all sincerity, “How can I ever repay you?” Skeeter tries several tactics – from a hopeful kiss on the lips to a free red Ferrari to a hundred million dollars. But none of his selfish requests get answered with anything more than an offended look.
I can’t help thinking of that Bible verse in James 4:2-4, where it says, “You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (NIV). This is exactly why Skeeter is not being rewarded; his heart is selfish, proud, and quarrelsome.
It is only when Skeeter returns to his original perspective of servant-heartedness when he must choose to serve himself or the greater good that he actually gets more than what he asked for and better than what he originally thought.
In the end, he is no longer tied to his past. He is able to honor his father, Marty, without looking to him for his destiny, and he also gets out from under the control of boss Barry Nottingham and the sexual power of the spoiled socialite Violet Nottingham. He no longer has to compete for position with the sly Kendall, either. He is a free man, able to stand in the present on his own two feet.
The ultimate gift for Skeeter isn’t getting the Babe or the hotel or massive power, as he originally thought. The ultimate gift is finding true love, helping his family regain stability and a sense of fun, and finding happiness away from the trappings of success and riches.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2: 3-4, NIV).
Visit the official movie site for Bedtime Stories
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