Bedtime Story works because leads David Niven, Marlon Brando, and Shirley Jones treat the material as though it were an erudite satire rather than a sitcom-level formula. Their characters seem oblivious to the story's more absurd elements, allowing the humor to flow naturally from the situations rather than from the forced farce. Of course, this is not to say that Brando doesn't occasionally mug for the camera, but at least in Bedtime Story -- as opposed to, say, 1976's The Missouri Breaks -- his scenery chewing is consistent with his character's personality and the context of the story. Veteran television director Ralph Levy seems to allow the performers room to determine each scene's tone. Fortunately, the performers look like they're having a good time, and, while the story sometimes veers into tastelessness, it never does so at the expense of belly laughs.