OLD DOGS Blu-ray Review

     March 18, 2010


That Robin Williams and John Travolta made a terrible comedy together is no surprise, the only notable aspect is that it was made in 2009 and called Old Dogs. Neither is above doing shit, and shit is what they made. But it’s interesting to think of how many times the two could have been paired: It could have been done in the early 80’s as a miss-matched partners comedy. It could have been done any time in the 1990’s post-Pulp Fiction. And had this film come out in the mid-to-late 90’s, it would have been almost the same film too. The two star as ad execs with Williams finding out the woman (Kelly Preston) he married on a lark had twins and is about to go to jail. The kids need looking after and these long time bachelors have to find out if they can be parents. My review of Old Dogs after the jump.

Old Dogs isn’t so much a movie as a series of reshoots strung together with the hope of achieving the semblance of a narrative. The film is as cookie-cutter and stupid as to be expected from the plot description. Old Dogs seems to have been conceived as the sort of film that is bluffing competency on the hope of not being picked by the teacher, and may have been made as a contractual obligation. The plot is barely more than what I’ve already suggested: Saddled with the twins, the duo of Williams and Travolta also has the big contract that they hope to earn, and the children unintentionally mess up their game by mixing up their pills, and answering their phone calls. Since the two are such long term bachelors they don’t know how to deal with kids, and they treat the kids like an alien race from another world. If hearing that you didn’t think that in dealing with them, they might learn to be fathers, you may have never seen another movie before.

old_dogs_movie_poster_01.jpgSo, the film has Seth Green, Rita Wilson, Justin Long, Bernie Mac, Matt Dillion, Ann-Margret, Amy Sedaris, Luiz Guzman and many other talented people who must have been paid reasonable salaries. All show up for bits of “comedy” that are neither funny nor believable as human interactions. Williams takes a pill that makes him lose his depth perception, but presses on without really trying to explain himself, while Travolta takes some medicine that gives him a shit eating grin that is frightening to look at. Later on the boys break into a zoo with Seth Green, and Green ends up in the arms of a gorilla. Green must sing ballads to placate the violent animal. I guess the idea of a small man being held in the arms of a gorilla is supposed to be funny. But it suggests that the monkey is going to rape the man. Which isn’t really funny if the film isn’t willing to go there ala Trading Places. Also not funny is a scene that makes absolutely no sense where Robin Williams’s character is operated like a puppet by a remote controlling Travolta because Williams doesn’t know how to interact with his daughter at tea time. This whole sequence – like much of the film – seems to come from a different movie than the narrative at hand, it also suggests that people who have connection to children or other human beings are the people who made the movie, and the presence of the late Bernie Mac suggests this film was shooting for a while. There’s also an incident where Williams is stuck in a tanning bed for so long he comes out brown. So a film in the 21st century has a blackface bit. Awesome.

The film was directed by Walt Becker, who also did the surprise hit Wild Hogs. But even though that film was terrible, it at least had a premise that people could latch on to, and four comic voices that were different enough to suggest something interesting. But this barely feature length film looks to have completely gotten away from him, and that’s saying something for someone with so little talent with comedy or direction. The problem is films like this often work, and so even though the film has a similar plot as Imagine That or countless other “I don’t spend enough time with my kids” films, there is no end to this shoddy sort of formula filmmaking. None at all.

Disney presents the film in a combo pack, which also includes a DVD of the film, and a digital copy. Who would want to deny themselves being around this movie? The Blu-ray is in widescreen (1.78:1) and in DTS 5.1 HD. The sound and picture are perfect on this one. Extras include a commentary by director Walt Becker and writers David Diamond and David Weissman, along with producer Andrew Panay. I thought this track might be funny, but it’s mostly just sad as they seem to think this is funny. Extras include a blooper reel (3 min.), two deleted scenes and an alternate ending (4 min.), a featurette on the child performers (3 min.) and two music videos, including John Travolta’s cover of Bobby Brown’s Every Little Step. This music video is a game changer:

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