Dec 3 2008 10:35am

Holiday Movie Deathmatch: Bedtime Stories vs. Inkheart

Some things come in pairs: creepy kids in your abandoned-hotel hallway, albino assassins in your Matrix, and movies with similar premises. Baz Luhrmann famously spurned the trend when he abandoned his Alexander the Great biopic in the wake of Oliver Stone’s box office bomb, but that hasn’t stopped Hollywood from turning out matching high-concept movies on a regular basis.

This winter, you can choose how you want to celebrate a story about the power of story: New Line’s Inkheart (based on Cornelia Funke’s 2003 book) or Disney’s Bedtime Stories.

To help you differentiate between these family-friendly fantasties, we’ve broken both movies down to key components. Two movies go in, only one comes out.


Inkheart: “A young girl discovers her father has an amazing talent to bring characters out of their books and must try to stop a freed villain from destroying them all, with the help of her father, her aunt, and a storybook’s hero.”

Bedtime Stories: “A family comedy about a hotel handyman whose life changes when the lavish bedtime stories he tells his niece and nephew start to magically come true.”


Inkheart: Brendan Fraser.

Bedtime Stories: Adam Sandler.

Is this even a contest? Advantage: Inkheart.

Support Group:

Inkheart: Paul Bettany, Helen Mirren, Andy Serkis, a unicorn.

Bedtime Stories: Guy Pearce, Lucy Lawless, Adam Sandler (he’s in all his own stories—how meta!).

I love Antipodeans as much as the next person, but if you think I’m betting against Helen Mirren and a unicorn, you have another thing coming. Advantage: Inkheart.

Perky Pet:

Inkheart: A ferret that makes money.

Bedtime Stories: a guinea pig with enormous eyeballs.

Ironically, not just descriptions of the two leading men. Advantage: Inkheart.

You Know It’s Whimsical When:

Inkheart: Your fictional best friend informs you that your sworn enemy is on his way to kidnap your child to force you to carry out his nefarious deeds.

Bedtime Stories: Candy falls from the sky!

Who doesn’t love a nefarious deed? Advantage: Inkheart.

You know it’s Action When:

Inkheart: Paul Bettany twirls fire!

Bedtime Stories: Adam Sandler jumps a dozen elephants in a chariot.

Verdict withheld until information is obtained regarding how much of his own fire-twirling Paul Bettany actually did.

You Can Look Forward To:

Inkheart: Any time Helen Mirren opens her mouth.

Bedtime Stories: Guy Pearce and Lucy Lawless in luau garb, at a piano.

I’m sorry, I have to know what that Hawaiian thing is about. It haunts my dreams. Advantage: Bedtime Stories.

WINNER: INKHEART, by a landslide.

Not that this should influence your decision! In fact, go see Bedtime Stories, and then tell me what Lawless and Pearce were doing at that piano. I have to know.

Bedtime Stories Trailer:

Inkheart Trailer:

Alida Saxon
1. alida
When I was at the theater two weeks ago, the ticket attendant said "You can see one or the other, they're just the same." Irritated me at the time, since Sandler's good at being a goof 90% of the time, and Inkheart is a far classier and dramatic book than any of his comedy films. Fraser can do comedy, but just from looking at the trailers you can see the differences.

Fingers crossed moviegoers can tell the difference too - and not prefer Bedtime Stories. I'm really wishing they hadn't shelved Inkheart for months. It would have been out well before the BS (pun intended) in its original slot.
Melissa Ann Singer
2. masinger
I strongly recommend Cornelia Funke's actual book, Inkheart. There are two sequels, of which I have only read the first (so far). They are treats for anyone who loves the written word.

Actually, I would recommend much of Funke's work; I think she's a brilliant fantasist. We haven't read everything she's written (at 12, my daughter has outgrown some of Funke's books), but what we have read is by and large wonderful. While the "Ink" books are perhaps my favorites, DragonRider is a lot of fun.

The Thief Lord, which was (I believe) the first book by this author released in the US, gives such a vivid description of Venice that after reading it, my child developed a passionate desire to visit the real city (someday, maybe, before it sinks). The Thief Lord was also made into a movie, which went direct-to-video . . . which is too darn bad, as it's remarkably faithful to the book and pretty good too. Worth renting, in other words, but read the book first.

For us, there is no battle. We are not Adam Sandler fans and have been waiting for Inkheart for a long, long time.
Megan Messinger
3. thumbelinablues
I don't care how much of his own fire he's twirling, it's Paul Bettany, the naval doc and medieval M.C. of my dreams. ::swoon:: Advantage, Inkheart.

And it might just be that the trailer is better put-together, but Inkheart has a clear arc and Bedtime Stories looks like the plot is "things happen to Adam Sandler." I hope Inkheart isn't another one like The Seeker, which also had a slick look and a pretty good trailer. The screenwriter also did Robots - anyone see that?

Also, after watching the trailer -- and with our recent Mighty God King post on my mind -- I couldn't resist re-titling Inkheart.
Dayle McClintock
4. trinityvixen
I watched the Bedtime Stories trailer in good faith, expecting to see this promised luau with Lucy Lawless and Guy Pearce. How could you promise that and not find a clip of it!?
7. KatG
No, no, no, you're looking at this all wrong. They are two different types of movies that have the same message, not the same movie, in the same way that two mysteries can both have a dead body in them, but be completely different. The message is good -- that stories and fiction are good things and family is important -- and both will be funny in different ways. And both will do really well because you have to keep kids busy during the holiday break. Not to mention the market for stuffed ferrets and guinea pigs. To have two films celebrating imagination is a bonus, not a gaffe.
Eugene Myers
8. ecmyers
I enjoyed the first two books, and I'm interested to see them interpreted for the screen; from what I've seen, the film seems more faithful than say City of Ember or The Seeker *shudder*. These are the perfect books for lovers of fantasy and fiction. Which reminds me, I need to get a copy of Inkdeath soon...

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