Old Dogs Directed by: Walt Becker Cast: Robin Williams, John Travolta, Seth Green Running Time: 1 hr 30 mins Rating: PG Release Date: November 25, 2009
PLOT: Dan and Charlie (Williams and Travolta) are two business partners who have been best friends for thirty years. Their life is thrown for a curve when they find out that Dan has two twins with “the one who got away” from seven years ago.
WHO'S IT FOR? Children will be educated clichés, and adults will get some kicks watching respectable actors subject themselves to thoughtless wacky humor. In modern comedy terms, fun for the whole family!
EXPECTATIONS: Walt Becker directed Wild Hogs and the trailer had as many wacky situations as it could cram into a two minute spot. Signs were not looking good.
ACTORS: Robin Williams as Dan: Making an ass out of himself comes easier to him than Travolta, but he does so with a lot of vulnerability. Williams rarely has a chance to bust out the charisma we’ve seen from him before, and he is saddled with one ridiculous situation to the next. Not as much fun as Williams is capable of. Score: 4
John Travolta as Charlie: He’s a harmless pig in a sort of pathetic way. Travolta can make a joke out of himself, and the clown shoes make for an OK fit, but his attempts at being tres hip only make his entire essence a bit more stale. Score: 4
Seth Green as Ralph White: This well known comedian is turned into the physical humor patsy, which requires him to get hit in junk many times or squeal like a girl when being groped by a gorilla. Green has experience in goofy before, but this is a bit of a waste of his potential. Score: 3
TALKING: There are a lot of jokes about poop/scat. Some homophobic and racist humor is also thrown in for some rounded measure. But no, Old Dogs doesn't sink to the level of ethnic bullying as seen in other "family" comedies like Wild Hogs. Score: 5
SIGHTS: Bernie Mac’s last on-screen appearance is in this movie. He has an odd cameo as an “ultimate puppeteer” who controls Dan in a scene where Williams’ character learns to be a father. Mac’s appearance isn’t somber, it’s just unfortunately placed. Though he isn’t funny here, it’s just another reminder he won’t be around to make us laugh anymore. Score: 4
SOUNDS: Was this movie made in 2007? Even if the answer’s yes, there’s still no reason for the soundtrack to be so outdated. I’m talking “Mambo No.5” dusty. Not to mention another usage of The Hives’ “Hate To Say I Told You So” in an action montage and the crème de la cheese ballad “You and Me” by Lifehouse in the “coming together” moment. Even the sarcastic nostalgia for Air Supply's "All Out of Love" is outdated. There are plenty of fresher songs available for all scenarios - just look at any other Hollywood comedy being released today. pathetic. Score: 2
BEST SCENE: The opening story about Dan's unfortunate tattoo made me laugh a few times.
ENDING: Even the selfish Charlie learns about the importance of family.
QUESTIONS: Apparently, Dan wrote a 12-page one-spaced letter to Vicki proclaiming his true feelings. We never hear what was actually written inside the epic letter. Song lyrics to another outdated song by Lifehouse?
REWATCHABILITY: Even if one enjoys this movie, I can’t imagine the jokes flying high a second time. Kids may enjoy a repeat viewing but they’ll also watch anything these days.
The reputations of Travolta and Williams earned from earlier successful works might help create a sort of leeway for the mindless humor that they seem to partake in here so lazily. Were it not for their familiar faces, the vacuous scenarios that these older gentlemen are placed in would be even weaker, and the lameness of the film's slapstick bonanza would be even more naked. Specifically with flicks like this, we sign up for the familiar faces of Williams and Travolta, not for the extremely absent logic in its story’s events, or the really weak theme of family that attempts to hold said story together. It might be better also if we just forget plausibility exists when trying to swallow the movie's heavily hunky dory plot elements.
The scenarios can generate a laugh or two out of those who are more patient with the complete emptiness that is such material. Either way, Old Dogs proves even more that family comedy is certainly starved for new ideas.
FINAL SCORE: 3/10