Skeeter Bronson (Adam Sandler) is a hotel handyman who was promised by his father, Marty Bronson (Jonathan Pryce), to be the manager of the family hotel. A germ fearing man named Barry Nottingham (Richard Griffiths) agreed to keep that promise when the Bronson family sold their hotel to him - then built a new hotel instead. When the story begins, an adult Skeeter is the new hotel's handyman while management is held by Kendall (Guy Pearce). Barry's new hotel, the Sunny Vista Nottingham Hotel, is a hit, but he's got plans to build an even more elaborate hotel, one designed around a theme that he's keeping secret.
Skeeter's sister and principal of Westminister Elementary School, Wendy (Courteney Cox), asks Skeeter to watch her kids, Bobbi (Laura Ann Kesling) and Patrick (Jonathan Morgan Heit), while she goes out of town on a job interview since her school is scheduled to be demolished. Skeeter does not know his niece and nephew very well, but agrees to watch them. Helping him out during the day is Wendy's friend, Jill Hastings (Keri Russell), an elementary teacher who works at the same school as her. That night, putting Bobbi and Patrick to bed, Skeeter gives them a story, one obviously inspired by his own life as an "underappreciated" handyman: a downtrodden squire "Sir Fixalot" rivals the pompous "Sir Buttkiss" in competition for a new job. The kids add their own details such as the king giving Sir Fixalot a chance to prove himself, a mermaid based on Jill, and a downpour of gumballs when Fixalot prevails.
The following day, while fixing Barry's television, Skeeter learns that the new hotel's surprise theme will be rock and roll. Barry is shocked to learn from Skeeter that the idea was already used for the Hard Rock Hotel. Barry offers Skeeter a chance to compete with Kendall for a better theme. While driving, Skeeter is suddenly greeted with a shower of gumballs which he does not see is caused by a crashed candy delivery truck. He concludes that the story had come true and quickly develops a plan.
For the next story, he chooses a Western in which he receives a horse named "Ferrari" from a Native American horse trader (Rob Schneider) for free. The children change the story to have him save a damsel in distress. They claim he should be rewarded with a kiss, only to have a dwarf kick him instead. That night, Skeeter goes out in search of his Ferrari and meets a man (also played by Rob Schneider), who steals his wallet. Barry's daughter, Violet Nottingham (Teresa Palmer), hounded by paparazzi, is rescued by the passing Skeeter. Just as he is about to kiss her, he is kicked by a dwarf. From this point, he determines that it is only the changes made by the children that affect his reality.
The following night, Skeeter tries to sell the kids on the theme ideas contest for the new hotel, but they are more interested in romance and action in their stories. The next story is centered around a Greek gladiator, Skeeticus, who, after impressing the emperor and a stadium of onlookers, attracts the attention of the most beautiful maiden. After a meal in which all the girls who used to pick on him in high school were impressed by the beautiful maiden he is with, they start randomly singing the "Hokey Pokey". After Skeeticus saves a man's life, a rainstorm sends him and the maiden into a magical cave which has Abraham Lincoln in it. Skeeter loses his patience with the story and upsets the children, telling them that their stories have nothing to do with real life. Unable to get them to continue, the story ends.
The next day, Skeeter learns Violet will not be meeting with him per the story design, but unexpectedly runs into Jill at the beach who invites him to lunch. Recognizing girls at the restaurant from his high school days, Skeeter asks Jill to pretend to be his girlfriend. The girls are plainly impressed and then inexplicably break into the "Hokey Pokey". Walking on the beach with her, he casually saves the life of a man before a sudden rainstorm sends them under the dock. He realizes that the girl in the stories is her, not Violet, and that he is falling in love with her. As they are about to kiss, he remembers that Abraham Lincoln is supposed to appear and moves away. Instead, a penny (with Lincoln's face on it) falls from through the cracks of the dock, completing the story.
For Skeeter and the kids' final night together, a space-themed story begins with Skeeter's character who battles Kendall's character in anti-gravity. Skeeter's character, who speaks in alien gibberish, wins and Skeeter quickly ends the story. Patrick interjects that the story is too predictable and - remembering Skeeter's argument against whimsically happy endings - pointless. Instead, Skeeter's character is incinerated by a fireball and there ends the story.
Panicking, Skeeter sees/hears signs of fire everywhere. At Barry's luau-themed birthday party, while dodging many fiery hazards, Skeeter's tongue is stung by a bee, making him as hard to understand as his character was in the last of the stories. Luckily, Skeeter's best friend, Mickey (Russell Brand), can still understand him and offers to translate for him. Kendall's idea is for a hotel with a theme celebrating Broadway musicals - an idea that impresses no one. Barry much prefers Skeeter's approach - simply reminding them of how fun children have when staying at a classy hotel. After winning the competition, Skeeter thinks he's found his happy ending. Instead, he panics when he sees Barry's oversized birthday cake. Skeeter douses the candle and Barry with a fire extinguisher. Enraged at what just happened, Barry tells Skeeter that he's fired.
Afterward, Jill, Patrick, and Bobbi discover that the school where they all work and attend is to be knocked down to make way for the new hotel, and they are all upset with Skeeter, refusing to believe that he didn't know about the location. Wendy believes him, but is upset because he taught the children not to believe in happy endings. She confesses that she had always been jealous of his and Marty's ability to believe in made up stories and have fun the way she never did and had secretly hoped that by leaving her children with him that his fun loving nature would rub off on them. When they attend the demolition to protest, Skeeter is inspired to prevent the school from being demolished - Donna Hynde (Aisha Tyler), one of the girls from his high school days, is the mayor of the city and helps find Barry Nottingham an alternative location on the beach in Santa Monica. Skeeter takes Jill on a wild motorcycle ride (during which Skeeter steals back his wallet from the thief (Rob Schneider) who stole it) which ends at the school and manages to stop the countdown of the demolition. As a reward, Skeeter asks Jill for a kiss and she gladly complies. Sometime later, Skeeter founds Marty's Motel (named after his late father) while Kendall and his scheming partner, Aspen (Lucy Lawless), are demoted to Skeeter's motel wait staff. The film concludes with Marty Bronson narrating that Barry Nottingham overcame his fear of germs and left the hotel business to became a school nurse at Westminster Elementary School. Violet became the new owner of her father's hotel business and married Mickey as Skeeter and Jill got married as well.
- Adam Sandler as Skeeter Bronson - Marty's son, Wendy's brother, Patrick and Bobbi's uncle/nighttime babysitter and the main protagonist who marries Jill and opens his own hotel at the end of the film.
- Keri Russell as Jill Hastings - Patrick and Bobbi's daytime babysitter and the deuteragonist who marries Skeeter at the end of the film.
- Guy Pearce as Kendall - The main antagonist who was supposed to be Barry's successor but in at the end of the film he ends up working for Skeeter.
- Russell Brand as Mickey - Skeeter's best friend who originally worked as room service waiter at Barry's hotel but at the end of the film he marries Violet and owns the hotel with her.
- Richard Griffiths as Barry Nottingham - Violet's father who at the end of the film leaves his hotel to Violet and Mickey when he gets a job as a school nurse.
- Teresa Palmer as Violet Nottingham - Barry's daughter who was going to marry Kendall but in the end she marries Mickey and becomes the new owner of the hotel.
- Lucy Lawless as Aspen - Kendall's sidekick who like him ends up working for Skeeter.
- Courteney Cox as Wendy Bronson - Marty's daughter, Skeeter's sister and the mother of Patrick and Bobbi.
- Jonathan Morgan Heit as Patrick - Wendy's son, Bobbi's brother, Skeeter's nephew and Marty's grandson.
- Laura Ann Kesling as Bobbi - Wendy's daughter, Patrick's sister, Skeeter's niece and Marty's granddaughter.
- Jonathan Pryce as Marty Bronson - Skeeter and Wendy's father, Patrick and Bobbi's grandfather and the narrator of the film.
- Nick Swardson as Engineer
- Kathryn Joosten as Mrs. Dixon
- Mikey Post as Angry Dwarf
- Rob Schneider as Thief
- Thomas Hoffman as Young Skeeter
- Abigail Droeger as Young Wendy
- Blake Clark as Biker
The score to the film was composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams, who recorded his score with the Hollywood Studio Symphony at the Newman Scoring Stage at 20th Century Fox. The song "Don't Stop Believin'" is played during the film and the closing credits.
The film has received mixed reviews. As of January 7, Rotten Tomatoes reported that 25% of critics gave it positive reviews based on 104 reviews. Metacritic gave it a 33/100 approval rating based on 26 reviews. However, Russell Brand's performance has been heavily praised.
Slashfilm predicted that the film would open #1 during the 2008 Christmas weekend due to its family appeal and the box office draw of Adam Sandler, but it came at #3 grossing $38,029,113 behind Marley & Me and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button respectively. However, during its opening weekend, it opened #2 behind Marley & Me with $27.4 million. As of July 2011, it has grossed $110,101,975 in the United States and Canada and $102,772,467 in foreign countries adding to $212,874,442 worldwide.
- ↑ As quoted in "First Look: Behind the scenes of Hollywood's biggest projects," Entertainment Weekly 1025 (December 12, 2008): 9.
- ↑ Dan Goldwasser (2008-12-17). "Rupert Gregson-Williams scores Bedtime Stories", ScoringSessions.com. Retrieved on 17 December 2008.
- ↑ "Bedtime Stories Movie Reviews, Pictures". IGN Entertainment (2008-12-29).
- ↑ "Bedtime Stories (2008):Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved on 2008-12-29.
- ↑ "Box Office Tracking: Bedtime Stories Could Be The Biggest Christmas Day Opening of All-Time". Slash Film (2008-12-24).
- ↑ "Weekdend Box Office Results for December 26-28, 2008". Box Office Mojo (2008-12-28).