Sandler turns out family-friendly role

By Rick Bentley

The comic actor bleeps out the raunch for ‘Bedtime Stories.’

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — If you were to bump into Adam Sandler on the street you would probably think he was someone you knew in high school. Or he might remind you of a guy who borrowed a few bucks from you a couple of years back. He’s too quiet and unassuming to make you assume that he’s a big movie star.

But he’s definitely among the top actors working in films these days. Sandler has built a huge following with the often-raunchy, no-holds-barred comedies “Happy Gilmore,” “The Waterboy,” “Little Nicky,” “Billy Madison” and “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan.” He’s won over serious moviegoers with the dramas “Spanglish” and “Punch-Drunk Love.”

Now Sandler’s trying to attract an even bigger audience. The comedian, who went from the outrageous Canteen Boy on “Saturday Night Live” to box-office sensation, stars in “Bedtime Stories.” It is the tale of a handyman whose late-night stories to his niece and nephew come to life. It opens Christmas Day.

The film is Sandler’s first family-friendly effort. He has been thinking about making such a movie since his 2-year-old daughter, Sadie, was born. He has a second daughter, Sunny, who was born in November. Becoming a father made Sandler take a close look at his career, and he decided to take a shot at making a family-oriented movie.

It’s a gamble. Sandler has developed a loyal following among young moviegoers, mostly males, who like seeing the comedian punch veteran game-show host Bob Barker or get funky with a senior citizen.

Sandler’s aware a lot of youngsters have seen his other movies, including the ones that have been rated R. He knows this because their mothers yell at him for corrupting their children by urinating on walls, among other acts.

“I wanted to make sure I made one movie in my career that mothers hug me for. This could be it,” Sandler says.

There are no guarantees the hugs will come. That won’t diminish the fun Sandler had making the movie. And he had to deal with a broken ankle during most of the shoot. Sandler was injured just before the start of filming while playing basketball with his nephew.

The injury required some creative thinking by director Adam Shankman. He put off filming all of the movie’s action scenes, which range from a chariot race to a Wild West showdown, until late in the schedule.

Sandler says it was all worth it to produce the kind of film he wanted to make.

“I had a great time making this movie,” Sandler says. “When the kids are laughing in the theater, I tear up I am so happy I did a nice thing. I am so happy to hear kids laugh and so happy it gives parents somewhere to take their kids.

“I keep thinking about grandmas. It is going to be cool for grandmas and grandpas to be having a nice time with their grandchildren.”

Sandler has no plans to abandon the fans who like his more unfiltered side. He’s just happy he took a shot at making a movie he knows he can show to his daughters.

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