Director: Walt Becker
Screenwriters: David Diamond and David Weissman
Ella Bleu Travolta
Runtime: 88 mins.
Australian release date: 26 December 2009
Walt Becker’s last major release, Wild Hogs (2007) also starred John Travolta which makes you think they must be pals as there seems to be no real reason to repeat the cycle judging by their latest collaboration, Old Dogs. From the old, obviously digitally combined photos in the opening credits, featuring Travolta and Williams, to the harsh reality of their real selves in the first scene, we are taken on a rocky ride as two usually great comic performers try and make out they are funny - NOT!
Set in Manhattan, Travolta and Williams play Charlie and Dan, a couple of mates who have endured a friendship and business partnership over a period of thirty years. They are a millennium odd couple in that Charlie is a bit hipper and more stylish and Dan is, well, the not so ‘real’ man. He has his foibles, not to say Charlie doesn’t, and it is the arrival out of the blue of Dan’s twins, Emily, played by Ella Bleu Travolta and Zac, played by Conner Rayburn, which turns both the partners’ business and personal lives upside down.
We learn that the twins are the result of an unsuccessful relationship that Williams had seven years ago and they are temporarily dumped on him because their mother Vicki, played by Kelly Preston, is heading off for a stint in the slammer. Williams discovers that he does have latent fatherly tendencies as he tries to fulfill his children’s bucket list. And, this is where the formulaic clichés begin. There are fart jokes, scat jokes, vomit jokes, golf balls hitting the nuts jokes, medication getting mixed up jokes and the most pathetic of all, the let’s be gay for a moment joke.
To be fair, there are a couple of moments when a chuckle rose to the surface and that’s about two-thirds of the way into the film after the very unfunny scene where the old dogs are trying to set up a deal of a lifetime with a Japanese investor. Of course, it all goes horribly wrong. Travolta and Williams try to reunite with the twins at their birthday party held in a zoo. Williams flies to the party as a super hero and you guessed it, he makes a big splash. Meanwhile Travolta is having his ears nibbled by penguins when he ends up in their pond. The furry creatures are the funniest part of the film.
As far as contemporary family entertainment goes Old Dogs is a bit of a let-down because one expected more from two performers who are very funny in their own right. This effort is marred by a clichéd script and laboured performances with only occasional funny moments, when you get to see the old dogs do their shtick. It is to be avoided at all costs if you have any brain cells left when it opens on Boxing Day. Don’t say you haven’t been warned!