| 17 Feb 2015 | 04:43

    Imagination is Adam Sandler's response to bad times. As Bedtime Stories' hotel employee Skeeter Bronson, Sandler helps his single-parent sister (Courteney Cox) during her new job search by babysitting his niece and nephew. He tells them bedtime stories that spur their own fantasies and-magically-come true in his own life. This is an inspired metaphor for the way pop culture ought to work: It is handed down by one generations, taken up by the next, understood by all, and becomes a source of amazement and spiritual sustenance. Wall-E be damned! With Bedtime Stories, Sandler continues his winning streak of appealing and humane comedies. Maybe it was seeing how P.T. Anderson's Punch-Drunk Love (2002) went wrong (turning whimsy into dark paranoia) that convinced Sandler how movies ought to entertain. Since then, he's balanced emotion with humor, sweetness with bawdiness, and made an agreeable series of light but substantive films. Bedtime Stories bests the current Oscar bait by going against today's trend toward "darkness." That Skeeter benefits from what he does for his niece and nephew is an object lesson in responsibility and benevolence-and it blesses the audience, too. Skeeter's stories range from Ancient Greece, Outer Space and the Old West to Medieval times-a genuinely cinematic panorama. Myth folds into contemporary living, rejuvenating Skeeter's work-life and family heritage-vital things that hipster filmmakers P.T. Anderson and Soderbergh and Fincher dismiss. Sandler outpaces them all. Bedtime Stories parallels Sandler's 2002 film Eight Crazy Nights-Hollywood's only Hanukkah-based animated film-as a comic artist's individual expression. Like Eddie Murphy in Norbit and Meet Dave, Sandler isn't ashamed to express his ethnicity. He shares his Jewishness ecumenically-as a contribution to pop culture. This recalls the Palestinian professor's credo in Munich, explaining why he translated The Arabian Nights: "I love what this classic tells us about the power of narrative, the relationship of narrative to survival." Bedtime Stories is Sandler's credo. -- Bedtime Stories Directed by Adam Shankman, Running Time: 95 min. --