Blu-ray Review: Old Dogs (2009)

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Let's put it this way: I'd rather watch Old Dogs again than Jennifer's Body and I'd certainly rather watch Old Dogs again before Bride Wars, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and The Men Who Stare at Goats. But if you asked me if I'd voluntarily go to the video store and ever rent Old Dogs, I'd say no before I went to go fetch another title with either lead actor Robin Williams and John Travolta.

It's not that this film is necessarily one of the worst movies of their careers because there's a few that have definitely beaten it, but more than anything, Old Dogs makes you wonder just how far gone in Hollywood studio executives have to be if they considered this anywhere near worthwhile of a) being made and b) starring Oscar caliber actors such as Williams and Travolta.

There's a quote in the production notes where the filmmakers share that they wanted the movie to remain funny with the sound off. And although Roger Ebert's well-written analysis illustrates why it needed sound to try to trick us into laughing along with music cues, the movie is so overly reliant on broad physical humor that turning the sound off wouldn't be a bad experiment.

And it's an odyssey that does makes sense considering the fact that the only genuine laughs the movie did earn from this critic (roughly five in eighty-eight minutes) all revolved around Robin Williams being so accident prone that objects keep hitting each other.

Yes, the groin hit is a constant source of humor as it turns out it's leaped off of America's Funniest Home Videos and become this generation's version of a pie-in-the-face but when the physical humor moves beyond a groin hit to something a bit more unexpected, that's when laughter ensues.

And sure enough, it's all you've got as the rest of the movie makes you scratch your head in awe that anyone could have liked it enough to green-light the project and fill out the cast with actors like Kelly Preston, Seth Green, and Rita Wilson, and Bernie Mac.

The premise is simple enough to fit on a silent movie typed screen card. Namely, two clueless best friends past the age of fifty (Williams and Travolta) get guilted into looking after two seven year old twins while they simultaneously try to look after a once-in-a-lifetime business venture.

If you've seen Big Daddy, the much funnier Role Models, either of the Three Men and a Baby movies or any given episode of Full House co-starring Old Dogs actress Lori Laughlin whose main job is to wear shirts the entire male cast can easily look down in every scene, you know that kiddie chaos will ensue.

Throw in a mixed up pharmaceutical experience times two when one more focused sequence would've been far more amusing than watching the duo stumble around like idiots, an overly macho camp leader played by Matt Dillon who initiates a game of Frisbee football with prison rules and a laughless cameo from the deceased Bernie Mac along with sequences so over-the-top they would've been better animated or silent and you're left with one Old Dog of a movie.

While it doesn't have enough bite to be painful nor affection to be touching and we have to learn to put up with some of its outrageous modus operandi if we're going to get through the experience, thankfully due to the short running time and high energy of Williams' tireless klutziness, the crisply transferred Disney Blu-ray will still fare better than those Men Who Stare at Goats in my eyes in picking one animal over another.

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FTC Disclosure:
Per standard professional practice, I received a review copy of this title in order to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique.