Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Review: "Old Dogs"
"Old Dogs" is a veritable Travoltafest.
John Travolta stars in the family-friendly comedy, playing Robin Williams' best pal and business partner. And his wife Kelly Preston and their daughter Ella Bleu Travolta both have leading roles in the flick.
Maybe this is the real meaning of "family film."
The movie is in some ways a sequel to "Wild Hogs," a similar movie from a couple of years ago that was a surprise box office hit, which like this one was directed by Walt Becker (the screenplay is by David Diamond and David Weissman).
It's an opportunity for Travolta to poke fun at his sex symbol status, playing a middle-aged guy who mixes up his medications and gets mistaken for a grandpa. I can't think of too many big stars willing to be the happy target of jokes about aging.
In an interesting twist, Preston and Ella Bleu don't play Travolta's significant other and daughter, but Williams'.
Williams and Travolta are Dan and Charlie, two lifelong chums and partners in a sports marketing firm. Charlie is the outgoing lothario, while Dan is the straitlaced business guy. They're about to land the deal of a lifetime with a huge Japanese company, when Dan gets a bolt from the blue.
Seven years earlier, Charlie took Dan to Miami for a night of whirlwind partying to help him get over his divorce, during which he met and married Vicki (Preston). They soon parted ways, but after looking to spark the embers of romance, Dan learns that there was a pair of complications from their brief nuptials: Fraternal twins Zach (Conner Rayburn) and Emily (Ella Bleu).
Vicki has to serve a two-week prison term resulting from some activist protesting, so Dan gets stuck with the kids. Of course, he insists that Charlie share in the fun since it was his meddling that got him stuck in this situation.
The movie is geared toward children, so the humor is rather broad and doofy. Parents may grow a little restless, but the kids will likely enjoy the antics -- such as Charlie's incessantly urinating dog, and junior partner Seth Green getting nuzzled by a giant gorilla.
The most enjoyable parts are the riffs on getting old, such as when the two men get their pills mixed up, with some wacky side effects that would tend to alarm the folks at the FDA. Travolta even subjects himself to an incontinence joke that scores some laughs.
"Old Dogs" is nothing new, but as family comedies go -- both intended for families and starring one -- it's a reasonably good time.