Old Dogs: Bad Dogs! *Whacks Old Dogs On Nose With Paper*
You’d think a movie like Old Dogs wouldn’t get made anymore. You’d think most stars would have an ounce more dignity than to take part in a film like this. You would think Robin Williams wouldn’t get locked in a spray tan room, and then proceed to walk around with an offensive brown face, made more offensive by the fact that, ha, ha, ha, Indians and Spanish people repeatedly mistaken him for their own minority. You would think John Travolta do multiple pee jokes, and a gag that involves him mugging wildly as an incredibly fake penguin nibbles on his ear. You would think Seth Green would have better things to do than get hit in the testicles by a golf ball and suffer implied sodomy at the hands of a gorilla, a gag which has never worked since it was done perfectly in Trading Places over 25 years ago. You would think Rita Wilson, wife of Tom Hanks, wouldn’t play a cross-eyed hand model who gets her hands slammed in a trunk as she flails “comically” (I use the term loosely) as the soundtrack blares “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” You would think all of these things. You would be wrong.
Robin Williams and John Travolta are Dan and Charlie, two best friends/business partners in sports management on the verge of making a big deal with a Japanese corporation. Williams once got married on a drunken binge in Miami to Vicki (Kelly Preston), and then got a quickie divorce the next morning. Seven years later, Vicki reappears in Dan’s life seven years later, since she’s going to jail, and since Vicki secretly gave birth to the twins she conceived with Dan on their one night together (an awful lot of virility for an old man drunk to the point of blackout, but I digress), she’d like Dan to take care of their love children as he’s trying to close a huge business deal. Sounds like a wacky premise for a PG rated kids movie? Of course not! But the film has cute dogs in it, so the powers that be took an obviously PG-13 script and trimmed the profanities!
When Williams and Travolta describe the side effects of all of the pills they take, I wrote a note: “In five minutes, the pills will get mixed up, and unfunny chaos will ensue.” I was incorrect. It took two minutes, as if to say, hey audience, we think you’re stupid enough that you’ll laugh at pee, fart, and ball-to-groin jokes, so you might forget this complicated set up we’re providing! Leave alone the fact that they never explain why the two of them would take pills which cause face paralysis, uncontrollable hunger, or total loss of depth perception… but if it means a stone-faced Travolta is going to put his face into a pie and Williams is going to run into things a lot, then rev up the laugh boat, boys, we’re going cruisin’!
The whole affair is simply embarrassing. You almost feel bad for the actors. Almost. Seth Green, Justin Long, and Matt Dillon attempt to save cameos to absolutely no avail. Rita Wilson wins the 2009 award for Most Humiliating Moment in a Film, along with being nearly a shoo-in for the Least Successful Comic Timing award as well. Ladies and gentlemen, being a cross-eyed character might have worked on vaudeville in the 1920s, but that time has long since passed. Even in the 1920s, this film wouldn’t have been funny. It’s bad enough that it stops being boring and starts becoming irritating. The number of bad dog related puns one could end this review with are infinite. Instead, I’ll do what the film should have done and not even try.