Theatrical Review: OLD DOGS
Writer: David Diamon and David Weissman
Director: Walter Becker
Cast: Robin Williams, John Travolta, Seth Green, Kelly Preston, Conner Rayburn, Ella Bleu Travolta, Bernie Mac, Luis Guzman, Matt Dillon, Justin Long
I hated OLD DOGS. I’ll just get that out of the way right off the bat. But I didn’t hate it because it’s the “in” thing to do or because I don’t like silly, fun family movies. I hated the film because no one involved with it gave a shit about what they were doing and that is completely evident by the lazy and stupid conglomeration of empty flickering lights on the movie screen meant to represent a movie. What OLD DOGS really represents is a large group of people doing something strictly for money with no thought about storyline, character development, story structure, humor, or decency. And if I’m wrong about the motivations behind this film, then screw everyone involved with the film even more because they clearly have no idea how to make a movie.
The story is a simple one told in family films since the dawn of cinema. Two grown men end up in the care of some kids and, although they’re extremely successful in their chosen profession, they know nothing about kids. Hilarity ensues as they try to take care of them for a given amount of time and har-dee-har, they fail miserably. In the case of OLD DOGS, Dan (Williams) and his best bud Charlie (Travolta) are left in the care of twins (Rayburn and Ella Bleu Travolta) that Dan is the father of even though he never knew the woman Vicki (Preston) he met seven years prior had been knocked up. Not only that, but the fact he completely believes these are his kids is ridiculous at best, but I digress. Now, Vicki’s off to jail for two weeks (yes, really) and Dan and Charlie are forced to care for the kids.
This film isn’t even worth the two paragraphs I’ve just composed and, rather than waste time and energy writing more about the film, I’ll make a list of the stupidity that happens and the things I most hated, and leave it at that. After all, the filmmakers clearly didn’t have the time or inclination to put anything into this film, so why should I waste time reviewing it?
1. John Travolta and Robin Williams play men who are too old to take care of kids. Throughout the film people confuse them as the kids’ grandparents, which is nearly as funny as when they get confused for being a gay couple. Not only are these two Botoxed doofuses not all that old, why are there jokes about homophobia in a kids movie? Oh, right…for the parents. Gotta keep on pushing the idea that gay isn’t something you’d ever want to be called or confused of being.
2. There’s literally 6-7 reaction shots featuring actual dogs in this film. Like, someone says something dumb and they cut to a dog cocking its head and doing a Scooby-Doo sounding “huh?” Ru-row indeed. Interestingly though, the dogs show the most emotional depth in the film.
3. At one point the drugs Travolta and Williams take each day get mixed up and they inadvertently take one another’s pills. Nothing says family comedy like two cash cows tripping balls on prescription meds.
4. Lets talk casting. Aside from the fact that, once again Williams and Travolta aren’t geriatrics, Kelly Preston plays Robin Williams’ former beau in the film. In real life, she’s Travolta’s wife so…what the fuck? Were the filmmakers not aware of the confusion this would cause or worse, were they not aware that there’s a bizarre three-way/wife swap connotation going on here? Compounding that is the fact that Travolta’s daughter Ella Bleu Travolta (What? Like the cheese?) plays one of Williams’ kids. Would it have been that tough to either cast other kids and women or better, switch the roles Travolta and Williams played? Further proof there was either no thought or care put into this mess.
Other irritating casting is the “lets-throw-a-million-actors-at-a-wall-and-see-what-sticks” mentality that clearly went on here. Without having any kind of character development to stand on Matt Dillon, Bernie Mac, Luis Guzman, Justin Long, Rita Wilson, Ann Margaret, Amy Sedaris, and Lori Laughlin wander into the film, grab their paycheck, deposit it, do some stupid, pointless scene meant to make Dan and Charlie look dumber, and then leave.
5. The scenes with the kids are painful at best. The first interaction Dan has with his boy Zach is when he’s informed Zach has never even been to a mens' room because he has no father. Not only is that just moronic, the kid is seven. Does he just hold it all day at school or if they’re at a zoo or something? When Zach finally gets the urge to drop the kids off at the pool, Dan stands next to the kid in the stall as he takes the Browns to the Superbowl. No, there’s nothing creepy or weird about a grown man who just met a kid and is now watching him take a shit. Nothing weird at all.
6. What the hell is an “old dog"? Are kids these days calling people over 50 “old dogs"? Have I once again missed a new entry into the American vernacular? No, I haven’t. No one uses the term “old dogs” to describe an old person. Why not call it "old farts"? That would have made more sense. Then again, there is a very old dog in the film so maybe I missed the fact the film was about him.
I could go on and on and on but just rehashing my hatred for this film is ruining my day. OLD DOGS just plain sucks. It’s the equivalent of some really nicely dressed asshole who’s out at a bar being a prick to everyone around him. When you call him on it or say what an asshole he is, his response is “yeah, but have you seen my car, house and bank account? I’m rich and you’re a poor, ugly loser!” Money isn’t everything and I’m sure this movie will make a bunch. But at least try to create a watchable movie and not just something people will fork over cash for to be dumbed down for 90 minutes.
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