Sometimes movies have all the essential ingredients necessary to hit a home run, but when they get up to the bat, they strike out. Old Dogs is a movie that had many of the right ingredients, but just did not mix together well.
Dan and Charlie (Robin Williams, John Travolta) are friends of 30 years who haven’t really grown up. They are marketing executives who have no other cares in the world apart from securing the next big deal. During a meeting with a group of Japanese businessmen, in an attempt to break the ice, Charlie tells the tale of what happened to Dan after getting divorced years ago.
Through a translator, Charlie tells the men how he decided that what Dan needed was an opportunity to drink his cares away… in South Beach. During their boys trip, Dan is so inebriated that he does everything he shouldn’t, including getting a chest tatoo and marrying a random woman named Vicki (Kelly Preston). Fast forward seven years later and while trying to get back in contact with her, he learns that she’s been keeping a big secret that he isn’t prepared for.
Dan is then forced to look at his life and decide if his job is still the number one priority. Charlie grudgingly sticks by his side and through ups and downs, figures out that there is more to life than just being a bachelor.
Williams and Travolta, real life friends for decades, just couldn’t do anything to save this movie. They both have succeeded in the comedy genre in the past, but even their performances in this film left something to be desired. I absolutely hated Travolta in this role. I felt he was not believable, not likeable and he was just pushing too hard. Williams had some decent moments, but the script was just too weak for actors of their caliber.
There was a nice supporting cast that consisted of Matt Dillon, Rita Wilson, Ann-Margaret and the late Bernie Mac. But again, their talents were not put to good use. This film felt like it was made simply to make money, which it couldn’t even do. It was as if they took a bunch of established actors, gave them some words in the hope of just securing some green at the box office. Sadly, the film didn’t even bring in $50 million.
Director Walt Becker, who worked with Travolta on Wild Hogs, is still a fairly young director in Hollywood. He was successful with Hogs and directed the fan favorite, Van Wilder. I think there was just too much going on in this movie and it needed to be taken down a notch. The humor was missing for me and I think that the writer just tried to take obvious situations and assume they’d be funny without the dialogue to back it up.
This film also showcased Travolta’s daughter, Ella Bleu, as Williams’ onscreen daughter. She was cute enough, but had far less dialogue than the young boy who played her brother.
I can’t even classify this as mindless fun. It was kind of painful to watch and I don’t recommend this film to anyone, unless you feel the need to watch a movie filled with cheap laughs.