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Old Dogs (A Movie Review)

Old Dogs

OLD DOGS (2009)

Starring John Travolta, Robin Williams, Kelly Preston, Conner Rayburn, Ella Bleu Travolta, Lori Loughlin, Seth Green, Bernie Mac, Matt Dillon, Justin Long, Ann-Margret, Dax Shepard, Luis Guzman, Amy Sedaris and Rita Wilson.

Screenplay by David Diamond and David Weissman.

Directed by Walt Becker.

Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. 96 minutes. Rated PG.

I know that the animal cliché that Old Dogs is trying to evoke is “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” However, watching this painfully unfunny, manic comedy, another animal saying kept coming to mind: “They shoot horses, don’t they?” After about fifteen minutes of seeing talented actors and comedians like John Travolta, Robin Williams, Kelly Preston, Rita Wilson and Seth Green mugging desperately for laughs which they know just aren’t in the script, the humanitarian in me felt the strong urge to put them all out of their misery.

For those of you who thought that the makers of the movie Wild Hogs could not go any lower, here’s your proof that they can.

Continuing the midlife-crisis theme of that earlier film (and bringing back Hogs co-star Travolta), Williams and Travolta play life-long friends who are partners at a big deal New York sports marketing firm. Dan (Williams) is quiet and business-like while Charlie (Travolta) is wild and personable. 

They have cool homes, great jobs and each other – what could go wrong?

Turns out that Dan has been carrying a torch for seven years for a woman who he met in Miami’s South Beach. On a drunken whim, they got married right away. The next morning, both sober, they got an annulment, but Dan has always wondered: what if?

That question comes to the fore when she calls Dan and asks him to meet her one afternoon at Grand Central Station. Without so much as a “how’ve you been?” she drops the news on him that their one night led to twins and that she has to spend two weeks in jail (for political protesting, can’t make her some scary jailbird) and needs him to watch over the kids for that time.

Leaving her kids with a man that she knew for one day years ago – even though he is their father – perhaps she should be doing some time for irresponsible parenting.

Still, despite the fact that it was established earlier (and heavy-handedly) that Dan can’t really relate to kids, the two aging bachelors decide to watch the kids – only to realize that it is more difficult than they would have imagined.

Now this may be a more gripping conflict if not for the fact that these kids are abnormally well-behaved and cute. You keep watching wondering why parenthood is so hard on these guys when the worst that the kids ever do is run around a tiny bit, make cutesy-but-supposed-to-be-loveable remarks about their new dad and win a multi-million-dollar contract for the guys by IMing with a Japanese businessman. If all kids were like these two then no one would ever hesitate about having a whole brood.

This all leads to a tired series of bad sight gags that include two golf balls to the ‘nads, everyone assuming the old guys are the kids’ granddads (and gay), full contact frisbee football, Williams in a jet pack and Green crooning Air Supply’s “All Out of Love” to a guy in a gorilla suit. (Why “All Out of Love?” Are we supposed to assume that just because it is an Air Supply song it is automatically just waiting to be mocked? Because, you know, I’m not the world’s biggest Air Supply fan, but that song is infinitely better than anything that the makers of Old Dogs have been able to write.)

80s sitcom star Lori Laughlin (who had also co-starred with Preston in an underrated 80s sex farce called Secret Admirer)is the only lucky one, because nearly all of her role is in Japanese, so we can’t tell how bad her lines are. I wish I could say the same about the rest of the cast.

Sorry, Dog lovers (if there are any out there…) this flea-ridden mongrel of a film has to be put to sleep.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2010 All rights reserved. Posted: March 5, 2010.


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