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  Publicity Stills of
(Courtesy of
Walt Disney Pictures)

Genre: Comedy
Director: Walt Becker
Cast: John Travolta, Robin Williams, Kelly Preston, Seth Green, Ella Bleu Travolta, Lori Loughlin, Justin Long, Matt Dillon, Dax Shepard, Bernie Mac, Rita Wilson
RunTime: 1 hr 29 mins
Released By: Walt Disney Pictures
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://www.disney.com/olddogs

Opening Day: 31 December 2009


Two best friends -- one unlucky-in-love divorcee (ROBIN WILLIAMS) and the other a fun-loving bachelor (JOHN TRAVOLTA) -- have their lives turned upside down when they’re unexpectedly charged with the care of six-year-old twins while on the verge of the biggest business deal of their lives. The not-so-kid-savvy bachelors stumble in their efforts to take care of the twins (newcomers ELLA BLEU TRAVOLTA and CONNER RAYBURN), leading to one debacle after another, and perhaps to a new-found understanding of what’s really important in life.

Movie Review:

You’d have thought with the pairing of Hollywood heavyweights John Travolta and Robin Williams that “Old Dogs” would be a riotous comedy. But you’d be awfully mistaken, quite awfully mistaken in fact, since this Disney live-action comedy is about as funny as a train wreck. It is most surely a figurative wreck, a mangled mess of a film cobbled together from a cutting room floor of unfunny gags.

Indeed, the script by David Diamond and David Weissman is so dismal that the only reason one can think that Disney would greenlight this is with the hope that the duo and director Walt Becker can turn this into the unexpected comedy hit that “Wild Hogs” was two years ago. Like that movie, “Old Dogs” is about middle-aged men who suddenly realise that they may have missed out on the things that are truly fulfilling in life.

But what inspiration that went into making “Wild Hogs” an amusing mid-life comedy for men has apparently gone to the dogs in this one. And I mean this literally, since “Old Dogs” probably wins the honour for the most number of reaction shots of a dog responding to supposed punch lines. The dog in this movie belongs to caddish bachelor Charlie (John Travolta) who, with his best friend Dan (Robin Williams), runs a sports-marketing operation in New York.

In the midst of closing a very important deal with a large Japanese corporation, Dan realises that his impulsive one-day marriage to Vicki (Kelly Preston) has yielded twins Zach (Conner Rayburn) and Emily (Ella Bleu Travolta). A twist of circumstance turns them into babysitters, an excuse for the film to string together a series of tiresome slapstick gags including getting hammered upside down by a grim-faced scoutmaster they call Mr Testosterone (Matt Dillon).

There’s also a medication mixup that causes Charlie’s lips to be frozen in a rubber-faced grin at a bereavement ceremony and Dan to suffer from distorted depth perception at a golf game with a business partner; a running joke about Charlie and Dan being mistaken for grandfathers; another running gag about the height of their employee Craig (Seth Green); and a haphazard finale where the duo and Craig break into a zoo to attend Zach and Emily’s birthday party.

Has this review divulged any spoilers? Not to worry, since all the funniest bits in the movie have already been used in the movie’s trailer to lure unsuspecting audiences into the cinema. And in an unsuccessful attempt to conceal the movie’s flaws, director Walt Becker keeps the pace of the movie brisk with heavy edits throughout, creating a haphazard film that shows scant regard for continuity from one sequence to another.

Perhaps the only saving grace of the film is the energetic performances of its two lead stars- Travolta and Williams. In particular, one must give praise to Travolta for the amount of enthusiasm he has managed to summon for the material that he has been given- perhaps thanks to the casting of his wife (Kelly Preston) and daughter (Ella Bleu). So too Williams, who hams it up for a movie that doesn’t deserve his talents or his efforts.

But neither Travolta nor Williams can save this movie from the brink of comedy disaster. No, not even the combined talents of Seth Green, Matt Dillon, Amy Sedaris and the late Bernie Mac in his last screen appearance. To blame “Old Dogs” for being formulaic doesn’t explain why this Disney live-action comedy fails miserably- it is formula gone wrong and for that reason, deserves to remain on the cutting room floor.

Movie Rating:

(Where have all the laughs gone? To the dogs, apparently)

Review by Gabriel Chong


. Bedtime Stories (2008)

. Hairspray (2007)

. Wild Hogs (2007)

. Cheaper By The Dozen 2 (2005)

. Man of the Year DVD (2006)

. Keeping With The Steins DVD (2007)

. College Road Trip DVD (2008)

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