Old Dogs (2009) - 3-Disc Combo Pack [Blu-ray]
|Genre(s): Comedy / Family|
|Disney || PG - 88 minutes - $44.99 || March 9, 2010|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-03-05|
Writer(s): David Diamond & David Weissman (written by)
Cast: John Travolta, Robin Williams, Kelly Preston, Seth Green, Ela Bleu Travolta, Lori Loughlin, Matt Dillon, Rita Wilson
Theatrical Release Date: November 25, 2009
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There is a certain fascination when it comes to observing certain actor’s careers. Sometimes they find a consistent success while aging gracefully, choosing appropriate genres (Clint Eastwood) and others who will do anything for that next paycheck no matter how awful a script might be (Schwarzenegger sometimes fit that bill before he became the governator). While I don’t think either John Travolta or Robin Williams do certain projects just for the paycheck, I also don’t believe they’ve aged too gracefully.
After the success of Wild Hogs, Disney decided to dip into the well once more with another family-oriented movie starring John Travolta called Old Dogs. Conceptually, the plot is something you would see on some crappy made-for-TV special – no doubt put on by The Disney Channel – and although I did laugh a few times at many of the cheap physical jokes (which is what this entire comedy is made up of), I kind of compare it to a slice of greasy, corporate pizza, sometimes it does taste reasonable at the time, but you sure will have second thoughts in a couple hours... I’m talking about the after taste people! Disgusting.
The plot behind Old Dogs is about ad executives Charlie (JOHN TRAVOLTA) and Dan (ROBIN WILLIAMS) who are on the verge of completing their most important, and biggest money-making, deal ever. Of course, as in life and especially Hollywood, timing is everything. You see, 7 years ago Dan went through a rough divorce and to pick up his spirits, Charlie takes him to South Beach Florida where Dan goes wild, getting a tattoo on his chest, and briefly marrying Vicki (KELLY PRESTON), a woman he just met. Over the years Dan has thought about Vicki and when out of the blue she gives him a call, he gets real excited and imagines for a possible relationship.
After some hijinks at a tanning salon, Dan meets Vickie for lunch and shockingly discovers that he is the father of twins: Zach (CONNER RAYBURN) and Emily (ELLA BLEU TRAVOLTA). And in another moment of “only in Hollywood”, Vicki reveals she’s off for a two week prison sentence for trespassing -- it was to stop some chemical plant... or something, so it was a noble arrest. Her friend, and hand model, Jenna (RITA WILSON) was set to take care of the kids until good ole Dan accidentally slams her hands closing the car trunk and then knocking her out trying to open it. Feeling bad and wanting to grow closer to the kids, Dan offers to take them in for the two weeks. Although at first hesitant, Vicki shockingly agrees to give the loves of her life to a basically complete stranger whom she has not seen in seven years (another convenience, she has no family or other friends). However, he did write a lovely 12-page, single-spaced letter, so obviously he’s not a serial killer...
As you can imagine, plenty of physical follow as Dan and Charlie juggle taking care of these kids while also closing a multi-million dollar deal with a Japanese company. It would not be a Disney family movie if there wasn’t a story moral as Dan comes to accept his kids and Charlie embraces being their uncle.
I will admit that in spite of the film’s incredibly awful 5% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and fairly low score on IMDb (5.1 at the time of this writing), I didn’t find Old Dogs to be so un-tolerable. I will also freely admit that I am a sucker for the cheap and easy laughs, so it should come to no surprise that I did manage to laugh a few times throughout. That being said, unlike Wild Hogs and other comedies of the ilk, it doesn’t have much going for it when it’s all over. In fact, the entire affair is pretty forgettable.
I had opened this review talking about actors aging gracefully so even though it comes to no surprise that John Travolta would take on a project like this (he’s taken several steps back since his resurgence in Pulp Fiction), I have to wonder what happened to Robin Williams. In small doses, as he has done with the Night at the Museum movies, he’s still a funny guy but here it doesn’t work nearly as well as it did in the old days when he headlined comedies. Personally, I thought he was on the right direction taking on darker roles like that of One Hour Photo and Insomnia and had hoped to see him do more drama, but instead he still does movies like RV, License to Wed and World’s Greatest Dad.
In another connection to Wild Hogs, the film was directed by Walter Becker who has also directed Van Wilder and was set to helm the sequel before Disney surprisingly canceled the film despite a $250 million gross worldwide for the original.
[Slight Tangent] Perhaps it was for the better as normally sequels tend to stink and Travolta’s record of late has been spotty and his sequel record is even worse (see: Staying Alive, Look Who’s Talking Too, Look Who’s Talking Now and Be Cool). For what it’s worth, and I know that it’s zilch, I like John Travolta and while I think it’s cool that he can poke fun at himself and take on some lighter films, some of his choices over the years have been perplexing. With Old Dogs, Travolta, like everybody else, is way over the top with his reactions and facial expressions. I think the age old adage of “less is more”, probably should have been applied here. [/Tangent]
The supporting cast consists of a random selection of small roles from the likes of the late Bernie Mac, Lori Loughlin (who is sadly underused), Seth Green and Matt Dillon with Justin Long, Luis Guzman and Dax Shepard providing uncredited cameos.
Overall, Old Dogs might not be the best comedy and is in fact pretty damn lazy writing in terms of plot, but I managed to laugh a few times times throughout. I’m in no way giving this a whole-hearted recommendation, but I thought it was far better than I had expected it to be.
The three-disc set of Old Dogs comes in a thick Blu-ray case and slick slip cover (like Up).
Audio Commentary – Director Walk Becker, Producer Andrew Panay & Writers David Diamond and David Weissman sit down for an informative track. It is a little slow but with the number of participants, they keep pace throughout.
Young Dogs Learn Old Tricks (2:51; HD) – Conner Rayburn and Ella Bleu Travolta interview Robin Williams and John Travolta about their experience on the set. This is your basic featurette – with footage from the film thrown in – that probably originally aired on the Disney Channel. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Bloopers (2:26; HD) – As you can imagine, there’s plenty of flubbed lines and on-set antics when you get Robin Williams and John Travolta together. Unfortunately it’s not very funny...
Deleted Scenes (3:30; HD) – This is a selection of three scenes slashed, probably to cut down on the running time and because they’re so dull. This includes an alternate ending which is just extended, nothing special.
We also get two music videos, “You’ve Been a Friend to Me” (2:57) by Bryan Adams (** Blu-ray Exclusive **) and “Every Little Step” (3:33) by John Travolta and daughter Ella Bleu. Plus there’s a BD-Live (** Blu-ray Exclusive **), which was not available at the time of this writing.
The DVD Copy contains all the non-exclusive features outlined above except in standard definition.
The third disc contains Disney’s own Digital Copy (** Blu-ray Exclusive **) compatible with iTunes and WMV.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
Old Dogs is presented in its original 1.85 aspect ratio presentation and in 1080p high-definition. The film overall doesn’t look bad, especially since it is a recent release, but at the same time it’s also unremarkable. Since it is a family film, the visuals are much lighter so you do get a good idea on the palette and can see more detail versus other darker looking films.
Meanwhile, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track sounds good but is primarily composed of dialogue from the front speaker and John Debney’s (Sin City, Hannah Montana: The Movie) zany and crazy score making use of the other channels. Since there isn’t a whole lot of action until the end, the LFE channel wasn’t present that much. Even though this isn’t an all-encompassing track, it’s most certainly more than acceptable for the audience, such as it is.
While yes Old Dogs was widely panned by critics and, for the most part, audiences alike, I found portions of this thin script to be somewhat funny. The audio and video package are both good but the features have much to be desired, commentary track aside. Given the poor reviews and the fact I’m easy for cheap jokes, you might want to give this a rental first, but I do think kids might enjoy it.