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Old Dogs (2009)

Directed by:

Walt Becker

Rating: 3/10

I’m not sure what the reasoning was behind Old Dogs. I mean, I suppose that if you’re not looking for much, or if you get free passes, or if you’re goal in life is to see every John Travolta film ever made, it’s an OK watch. Other than that, though, it’s a disappointing waste of not only its two leads, but a cast that looks spectacular on paper (Amy Sedaris, Bernie Mac, Justin Long) that is reduced to little more than a series of humorless cameos.

Straight-laced Dan (Robin Williams) and his ladies man pal Charlie (Travolta) have been best friends and business partners for over 30 years. Seven years ago, when Dan’s marriage went down the tubes, Charlie stepped in to cheer up his buddy with a trip to Miami that resulted in Dan’s quickie hookup, marriage, and annulment with a woman named Vicky (Kelly Preston). Well, seven years have passed, and Vicky’s on her way to jail for two weeks, prompting her to inform Dan he’s an insta-dad of twins … and of course, movie luck being what it is, he and Charlie wind up in charge of the kids and learn all kinds of life lessons while finding themselves in several wacky predicaments.

Now, I’m all for mindless fun, and this obviously isn’t going to be on anybody’s list of Oscar contenders, but really, who paid a cast of this caliber to show up for such sub-mediocre work? Every once in a while, you may laugh, but it’s not enough to justify the price of a movie ticket or the time wasted sitting there watching. Williams had gained a few points with me recently for his interesting turn in the uber-dark World’s Greatest Dad, but he lost those freebies by agreeing to take a role that’s not just unfunny, but sappy and predictable to boot. Travolta, at least, can claim he was excited on a film with both his wife and daughter—though that doesn’t make up for his over-the-top cheese-fest of a performance. I’m sure that there are people out there who might enjoy Old Dogs, saying things that I’ve said before about movies like, “It wasn’t THAT bad,” or, “It could’ve been worse”—and in truth, those statements are accurate. Old Dogs offends in its absolute blandness, in its complete inability to offer anything new or clever, and in the fact that even in its better moments, it is barely able to elicit a chuckle.

It's Got: Wasted cast, Penguins, Nothing worth recommending

It Needs: Something funny, To give audiences back their money, To apologize

Alternatives:

Four Christmases, Look Who's Talking, Wild Hogs

Summary

Not as inherently awful as, say, The Love Guru, Old Dogs still manages to be very, very bad and waste the time of so many talented people.

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