If at first you don’t succeed, fail miserably again. Three years after the crass and homophobic comedy Wild Hogs, Robin Williams and John Travolta reunite with director Walt Becker for this chaotic road movie that proves parenting is a lot harder than it looks. So, it would seem, is writing and directing a film that retains a single laugh. Guys. What happened? Burn all copies of this film. Do it now.
Old Dogs, Old Premise, Getting Real Old
Screenwriters David Diamond and David Weissman appear to have brainstormed zany set-ups then crudely stitched together each unlikely scenario with a linear narrative about an errant father bonding with the kids he never knew. Thus the prescription medications belonging to Williams and Travolta’s businessmen are accidentally mixed up, leading to unfortunate side effects. One suffers depth perception problems on a golf course and naturally begins to cut and slice tee shots into other players; the other is stricken with a permanent Joker-like grin at a funeral. And when the characters stumble into a gorilla’s enclosure, one man becomes ensnared in the beast’s arms and has to sing Air Supply’s “All Out Of Love” as a lullaby. Aha. Ha ha. By that point, we’re not so much all out of love as all out of patience.
Dan (Williams) and his buddy Charlie (Travolta) are on the brink of landing a multi-million dollar deal with a Japanese consortium. In the middle of negotiations, Dan learns from his ex-wife Vicki (Kelly Preston) that he has fathered twins, Zach (Conner Rayburn) and Emily (Ella Bleu Travolta). When the tykes’ babysitter Jenna (Rita Wilson) suffers a freak accident which renders her unable to take care of her tearaway charges, Dan foolishly agrees to bond with Zach and Emily by taking care of them for two weeks. “If I’m going to be an old dad for two weeks, you’re going to be Uncle Charlie. We can do this,” Dan tells his incredulous buddy, as well as himself. Enthusiastic and ambitious company junior, Ralph (Seth Green), comes along for the ride. The men and kids embark on a ramshackle road trip via a spot of camping that leads to misadventures involving spray tan and one very amorous primate.
So Bad It’s.. Nope, Still Bad
Old Dogs should have been put down before director Becker ever called “Action!” The look of desperation in Travolta and Williams’ eyes is palpable as they gurn, fall flat on their faces and scream to try and wring one half-hearted smile out of the flaccid premise. The only feeling we have is pity for Zach and Emily, who will be emotionally scarred for life by their old man’s antics. When Dan transforms himself into a superhero for the grandstand finish and takes to the skies on a jet pack, we silently pray the afterburners will malfunction and propel him into the stratosphere, never to be seen again. Old Dogs, no new tricks whatsoever.