OLD DOGS, 2009
Ben (Williams) is a successful businessman whose professional and personal life is altered when an old flame re-enteres his life -- with her two children (twins!) in tow. Finding himself temporarily in charge of their welfare, he enlists his best friend and colleague (Travolta) to co-parent.
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I have to confess, I'm always been unclear as to the reasoning behind making children's films about adults and their lives. There's not going to enough common ground of experience for it to make much sense to the children, and it will be too infantile for the adults. They're supposed to be films for the entire family, but they're being made by people who don't seem to know what that means. Nevertheless, they keep getting made and it's time for the latest one.
Dan (Robin Williams) and Charlie (John Travolta) are a pair of "Old Dogs;" best friends since college and through the building of their successful sports management company. Wealth, choice and profession have kept either one from really growing up—even with middle age not just knocking on the door but coming inside and rifling through the fridge. But on the eve of the biggest deal of their careers adulthood is about to be painfully thrust on them in the form of the seven-year-old twins (Conner Rayburn and Ella Bleu Travolta) Dan never knew he had.
The newest comedy from Walt Becker ("Van Wilder," "Wild Hogs"), "Old Dogs" is about exactly as funny and obvious as you'd think, with the easy set up and pay off of a well-worn, completely neutered sit-com. The filmmakers seem to think the best comedy is the kind that's not even remotely attached to reality, which wouldn't be a problem if they weren't trying to make a film set in the modern world. The result are 'jokes' where the adult apartment complex Dan has moved into after his divorce has child-specific alarms and spotlights to protect its isolated inhabitants.
The rest of "Old Dogs" can be pretty easily cribbed together from other similar recent films like "The Game Plan" and its ilk. There will be destruction of Charlie's bachelor pad, some sort of costumed play time as the adults learn how to get back to the kids level and some promises that will have to be broken and then made up for.
The sad part is there's a decent film in there somewhere. The desire to stay young for as long as possible, particularly while simultaneously dealing with growing old, is potent soil for comedy but also requires care in its handling and there's none of that to be found in "Old Dogs."
There is, however, a fine supporting cast responsible for the few genuine laughs "Old Dogs" muster, particularly Matt Dillon and Justin Long as a pair of over enthusiastic camp counselors. Their not around near long enough. No one really is as "Old Dogs" sprints relentlessly from relentlessly from situation to situation regardless of whether it works or not.
The conservative and committee prone style of filmmaking Hollywood offers can churn out some good stuff, but more often than not we get stuff like "Old Dogs" instead. Heartless, brainless and unable to do anything with what it does have to offer. It doesn't know who it's for or what it's offering, it just needs to get made because people have to have something to do. Spare yourself and your kids.