Australian Council on Children and the Media

Bedtime Stories

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Not recommended under 7 due to violence and scary scenes.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Bedtime Stories
  • a review of Bedtime Stories completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 26 December 2008.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 7 Not recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children 7-10 OK for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Bedtime Stories
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: Very mild slapstick violence
Length 93 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Marty Bronson (Jonathan Pryce) is forced to sell his hotel to Barry Nottingham (Richard Griffiths) a hotel entrepreneur, who promises Marty that his son Skeeter will be the new hotel’s manager when he grows up. 

Twenty-five years later Skeeter (Adam Sandler) is working as a maintenance man in one of Barry’s hotels. Skeeter hopes that Barry will make him manager of his new hotel, but when the new manager is announced it turns out to be Skeeter’s nemesis, a man named Kendall (Guy Pearce).

Skeeter’s sister Wendy (Courteney Cox) asks Skeeter to look after her children Patrick (Jonathan Morgan Heit) and Bobbi (Laura Ann Kesling) during the night while she is away. A friend named Jill (Keri Russell) will look after the children during the day. When Skeeter puts the children to bed at night he tells them a bedtime story about a magical land with knights and castles, where the characters in the story are played by the various people in Skeeter’s life including Kendall, who plays the villain of the story. However, partway through Skeeter’s telling of the story Patrick and Bobbi interject their own outlandish additions to the story, one of which involves the king in the story (Barry) giving the underdog of the story (Skeeter) a chance to rule his kingdom in place of Kendall. The following day unexpected events begin to occur, and Skeeter realises that somehow his bedtime stories are coming true.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

None of concern

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

Bedtime Stories contains slapstick violence. Examples include:

  • Skeeter talks about punching his sister’s husband and giving him a wedgie.
  • In jest, we see Skeeter throw a handful of cooked chips with sauce in a man’s face.
  • We see a medieval knight riding a horse with the horse disappearing beneath the man and he man falling to the ground on his bottom in a comical manner. The man is unharmed.
  • A medieval styled goblin is physically thrown out of a castle.
  • In one scene, Skeeter slams a door in Jill’s face, twice. The door does not hit Jill.
  • A man threatens to make bacon out of Bugsy, a pet guinea-pig.
  • One of Skeeter’s stories involves a group of cowboys surrounding a woman and moving in towards her in a threatening manner. Skeeter dressed as a wild-west cowboy lassoes a log, and pulls it along the ground, knocking over the cowboys and then shoots the gun out of another man’s hand.
  • A male dwarf kicks Skeeter in the leg and then runs off.
  • A man tricks Skeeter into believing that he is going to be given a Ferrari. He steals Skeeter’s wallet from his pocket and runs off.
  • We see images of a very young boy with shaving cream on his face and using a razor as if shaving, and hear a man say that it was ok he had taken the blades out of the razor.
  • One of Skeeter’s dreams features a fight between Skeeter and Kendall where both men float in the air and shoot guns at each other with long rubbery looking hands coming out of the guns and slapping at the two men. During the fight, a beast called a Booger Monster attacks the men trying to lick them with its long green slime covered tongue. The Booger Monster falls on Kendall covering him in green slime. Skeeter is incinerated in a fireball. 
  • Skeeter sprays a toxic spray into a shop assistant’s eyes and then into his own eyes. They both scream in pain.
  • We see Skeeter using a fire extinguisher to put out a small fire and afterwards see Barry’s face covered in foam.
  • Skeeter rides a motorbike in a reckless manner, nearly colliding with a fire truck, causing a large sign to fall onto a car, and then running into and knocking out Kendall, who is left lying unconscious on the ground.  

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • In a bedtime story, we see images of a small green goblin.
  • A pet guinea-pig has large bulging eyes which may disturb some younger children.
  • In a bedtime story a giant green slime covered creature referred to as the Booger Monster, attacks both Skeeter and Kendall. The Monster has a large green slime covered tongue that he uses to lick his victims, covering them in green slime.
  • Skeeter gets stung on the tongue by a bee when he licks an ice cream. We see Skeeter with a swollen tongue hanging out of his mouth and having trouble talking.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • A number of “junk foods”

Sexual references

There are some low level sexual references in this movie, including:

  • On a couple of occasions Barry’s daughter Violet is referred to as “Hot”. Skeeter refers to Violet as someone who goes out clubbing with guys, the inference implying that she is sexually promiscuous.
  • A man asks to be made all sexy like a pop star.
  • We see a man wearing a woman’s grass skirt and coconut shells on his chest.
  • After Skeeter gives Barry a hug we hear a woman say “That’s so sweet and creepy.”
  • A young boy (five years) talks about having a crush on a young girl

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • We see a several images of women in low cut dresses that reveal deep cleavage.
  • In one scene we see images of several woman wearing bikinis that reveals deep cleavage
  • We see images of Skeeter standing upside down while riding on a chariot with his red underwear exposed.
  • A young girl (seven years) approaches a young boy (five years) and asks him if there is some way she can show him her appreciation. She kisses the boy on the cheek. The boy’s mother asks the boy whether the girl is a little old for him.
  • Skeeter and Jill kiss each other hard on the lips.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • A number of people in a restaurant drink wine.
  • Skeeter talks about drinking champagne in a hot-tub. 

Coarse language

Bedtime Stories contains some mild coarse language and putdowns. Examples includeTiny mind Bronson; Sir Butt Kiss; Mistress Stinky and Master Smelly; Big people stink; I’m like the stink on your feet, O my god; Kick his butt.

In a nutshell

Bedtime Stories is a light hearted and entertaining adventure comedy that targets children, younger adolescents and families.

The main messages from this movie are

  • not to be too serious, and enjoy life’s little pleasures that most of us take for granted
  • take a chance on life: happiness comes unexpectedly.  

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as

  • While Skeeter was basically an honest person, he manipulated situation for personal gain. Parent may wish to discuss real life consequence of manipulating a situation for personal gain, and whether manipulation of this kind is acceptable depending on the situation.

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