Old Dogs, the latest family comedy from Walt Disney Pictures, certainly lives up to its title. The jokes and situations are tired and have been seen hundreds of times in one form or another making this is one of the weakest films I’ve seen in a long time, especially coming from a major studio. The only laughs I got out of this movie came from the cameos by Justin Long and the small screen time allotted to the hyper talented Seth Green. If Disney wants to make a movie starring those two guys, I’d buy a ticket for it right away. Unfortunately, their leads are John Travolta and Robin Williams, trying to wring laughs out of a mediocre, cliched script,
Travolta and Williams star as Charlie and Dan, lifelong best friends who run a sports marketing firm. On the eve of landing their biggest client ever, the two bachelors learn that Dan’s brief marriage to Kelly Preston’s Vicki resulted in twin children! After six years, Vicki comes to Dan for help: she’s about to go to jail (for an environmental misdemeanor) and she has no one to look after the two tykes. Dan, who has been feeling a little empty lately, quickly agrees, much to the dismay of Charlie.
Do I need to spell out what happens next? Charlie and Dan decide they will take care of the kids, which means bringing them to their offices where mayhem ensures. Then Dan and the kids end up having to move into Charlie’s sterile bachelor pad, where mayhem ensures. Then Dan and Charlie take the kids to a summer camp, where mayhem ensues. And so on and so on. Green has a small role as their assistant; Matt Dillon and Justin Long have cameos as camp counselors; and the late Bernie Mac has a pathetic cameo as a children’s performer who has created an electronic human puppeteering machine. How sad that this was the comedian’s final role.
Old Dogs is pitiful. Travolta tries to liven up every scene he’s in, but the script is just so bad that he can’t do anything with it. Likewise, Williams is relegated to the same sort of sad sack character he’s done in almost every movie since Good Will Hunting. Just about the only thing redeeming about Old Dogs is the presence of Green. He manages to make even something so unfunny seem a little entertaining. Oh, and that scene with Green in the gorilla’s arms, the one that was milked for marketing purposes (and is featured on the DVD cover)? It only lasts a couple of minutes and doesn’t show up until the very end of the film.
HOWEVER, as I sat on our couch, nodding off between grimaces, my 11 year old and 8 year old were howling with laughter. That’s right, they loved this movie. In fact, they enjoyed it so much that three days later, when their cousins had a sleep over, the watched it again. They were bowled over with just as much enthusiasm, and their cousins were doubled over with the giggles, too. So, maybe I should clam up and let the kids have their laughs.
Disney is already doing fine with the Old Dogs DVD, so they probably aren’t worried about my bitching. But if your kids rope you in to watch it, you’ve been warned.
I will add that the Old Dogs 3 disc combo pack is a bargain, if you do end up buying it. I think that Disney has the right idea by packaging a Blu-ray DVD, a standard DVD and digital copy as one unit. Bonus features include running commentary by the director, Walt Becker, and the writers; bloopers, deleted scenes and music videos.