Monday, January 04, 2010

OLD DOGS - No New Tricks

OLD DOGS (comedy)
Cast: John Travolta, Robin Williams, Kelly Preston, Seth Green, Ella Bleu Travolta, Lori Loughlin and Matt Dillon
Director: Walt Becker
Screenplay: David Diamond and David Weissman
Time: 88 mins
Rating: * 1/2 (out of 4)

LET'S CUT TO THE CHASE: This is the type of movie that critics love to hate. It is derivative, downright silly and implausible. But then again, there are many who would laugh to see Seth Green cooing in the arms of a gorilla and at John Travolta getting pecked on the face by a penguin. These are the people the PG rating is for.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT? Two buddies, Charlie (Travolta), a fun-loving bachelor, and Dan (Robin Williams), a divorcee, find their lives turned upside down when they a’re put in charge of seven-year-old twins, Zach (Conner Rayburn) and Emily (Ella Bleu Travolta), while on the verge of making the biggest business deal of their lives. The emphasis is on how the 'old dogs' fumble in their efforts to 'babysit' the twins, leading to one debacle after another, and to a new-found understanding of what's really important in life.

Incidentally, this film marks the last appearance of Bernie Mac, whose death delayed the movie's opening in the US. It's also the last film Travolta made before the death of his son, Jett (who is the only member of the Travolta clan not to have a role in this film). Kelly Preston (Travolta's wife) plays the lead female, and his daughter, Ella Bleu, is one of the kids.

HITS & MISSES: This movie reminds me of Travolta's other disaster, Battlefield Earth (2000). While movies of the same plot, like The Game Plan and The Pacifier, had one protag pit against kids, this one features two adults in a series of misadventures involving camping, bear poop, dog urine, human flatulence, golf mishaps, and a visit to the zoo.

This supposedly 'feel good' flick is about Dan and his need to bond with his children, but the kids are left out of the action most of the time in order for Williams and Travolta to get caught up in some wild stunt. Indeed, the younger kids in the audience may find something to laugh about here but the gags are too outrageous and juvenile for people with a functioning brain. Director Walt Becker, who gave us the mildly engaging Wild Hogs, seems to sink lower with Old Dogs.

THE LOWDOWN: Sorry, no new tricks here.


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