* (out of 5)
November 25, 2009
John Travolta as CHARLIE
Robin Williams as DAN
Kelly Preston as VICKI
Conner Rayburn as ZACH
Ella Bleu Travolta as EMILY
Lori Loughlin as AMANDA
Seth Green as RELPH WHITE
Directed by: Walt Becker
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
A couple years ago, the Walt Disney Company and director Walt Becker captured lightning in a bottle with their surprisingly fun albeit silly film “Wild Hogs.” I dreaded that movie, but in the end I actually liked it, for what it was.
Now, they’re trying to do it again with “Old Dogs,” a story of a marketing executive (Robin Williams) who discovers he has seven year old twins. When their mom is sent to jail for two weeks, he agrees to take care of the kids with the help of his womanizing business partner (John Travolta).
You know that saying about lighting not striking twice in the same place? Well this movie proves it.
What made “Wild Hogs” work wasn’t necessarily the writing, but rather the cast – from the lead four roles of John Travolta, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence and William H. Macy – to the bad guys played by Ray Liotta and Kevin Durand. In this new movie, the only big names are Travolta again with Robin Williams. Seth Green (who is really the funniest part of the film) is only in a couple scenes and is wasted on the movie.
It’s bad enough to try to rehash the same fish-out-of-water comedy, but to generate a title so similar it could rhyme with the first film in a dirty limerick is just shameful. Imagine if Danny Boyle’s next film were “Humbug Billionaire,” and you’ll feel the same dread as I did with this movie.
While Travolta and Williams are both fine actors (with plenty of turkeys to their name, incidentally), they have zero chemistry. Williams has tried these buddy comedies before with flops like “Father’s Day” and “License to Wed.” You’d think he’d learn by now.
Everything about this film seems forced, from the friendship between to two men to the saccharine-sweet moments with his illegitimate children. The plot seems to be cobbled together with awkward and disparate scene stuck in there for no other effect than to poorly execute slapstick comedy. I can imagine the pitch meeting in my head…
John Travolta and Robin Williams accidentally mix up their medication and suffer the wacky side effects, and the hilarity ensues! Robin Williams is remote controlled by John Travolta in a VR suit, and the hilarity ensues! Overzealous scout leaders think the two guys are gay, and the hilarity ensues! Robin Williams slams the car trunk on a hand model’s hands, and the hilarity ensues!
The biggest problem is that the hilarity never, in fact, ensues.
Sure, there are some randomly funny moments, and the slapstick works here and there, but the scenes never fit together with any cohesion.
Case in point, in the middle of the film, there’s a terrifyingly random scene with the late, great Bernie Mac which really has no impact on the rest of the movie. It seems that director Becker kept the scene in not because it fit the film but rather because it will be one of the last film appearances of Mac.
In the end, we’re left with a film that has more things in common with the Eddie Murphy flop “Imagine That” than with the surprise hit of 2007 “Wild Hogs.” It’s hard to catch lightning in a bottle once, but in his second attempt, Becker is left with nothing more than an empty bottle.
Let’s hope that kills any chance for another film of this ilk, probably called “Cool Frogs” or something horrid like that.