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Saturday, 29 July 2017

Retro Movie Review: Old Dogs (2009) #RobinWilliams, #badmovies

Old Dogs
Cast: Robin Williams, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Seth Green, Lori Loughlin, Bernie Mac, Matt Dillon, Rita Wilson 
Genre: Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $96 million 

Plot: Two friends and business partners find their lives turned upside down when strange circumstances lead them to be contemporary guardians of 7-yr-old twins

'Woeful Williams In Worthless 2000s Comedy'

Sitting through this turd, I was surprised to see Disney, in particular, being attached to Old Dogs: a comedy film that was originally intended to be an R-rated adult affair. But after test screenings showed that adults weren't too impressed, Old Dogs was retooled and tweaked to appeal to children and families.

Unfortunately, their changes and the somewhat odd premise rendered Old Dogs as being yet another truly bad Robin Williams film from his filmography. Compared to other lows in What Dreams May Come, August Rush, Bicentennial Man, this film is just as unrelatable, so unwatchable and painfully dire, quite frankly, it's shocking actually. Mistakenly dubbed an ensemble comedy, but for Robin and John Travolta, the rest of the names aren't exactly A-listers. 

Dan Rayburn (Robin Williams) along with John Travolta's Charlie are longtime business partners, and who are 'Old Dogs' go all the way back to college. One has become a bachelor, the other has discovered he is the father of fraternal twins from a woman he was briefly married to. Fast forward a few years later, Dan learns what it takes to be a father. 

The plot bears a slight resemblance to another Robin Williams comedy vehicle, 1997's Fathers' Day with Billy Crystal, which follows in a similar line but without the ''chasing after the kid'' subplot and with Robin being much older here, he is more in the vein of the granddad, rather than the 40-something dad. It tries to be similar in many ways to Fathers' Day with John Travolta acting as the straight man instead of Billy Crystal. Yet all-round, Old Dogs is a complete dog, as well as a catastrophe as a comedy with not so good comedy, lame fart jokes thrown in and humour as desperate as Robin Williams and John Travolta's attempts here, no matter their energy, with Robin he seems defeated. The forced comedy scenes from Robin Williams made me cringe and was not only wholly unfunny, but it was also nothing short of uncomfortable. 

Speaking of which the comedy wasn't that funny or witty, it felt forced and the slapstick was desperate and it just didn't tickle my funny bone. It was a film that didn't make me laugh or smile and the plot was so incompetent and not the least bit charming. The direction is mediocre, low-grade and lacklustre.

Seeing Robin Williams here made me rather sad; sad to see him associated with this film and this, in turn, makes me love Fathers' Day, Mrs Doubtfire, The Birdcage. Good Morning Vietnam and The Survivors and Club Paradise even more so than Old Dogs. His best days were over, the '70s, '80s and '90s, which have been a blessing to Robin in more ways than one, were over. The 2000s, like I mentioned earlier in one of my other reviews of Robin Williams movies, hasn't been a good one: as he got older, the worse his movies became, and he was no longer flavour of the month, or make that decade. His star quality and value diminished as his younger contemporaries took charge. As he was juggling with both dramatic and comedic roles, the quality of those movies dipped considerably low, ranging from sub-par to low-par fare that is instantly forgettable. It was disappointing to see.

Meanwhile, John Travolta is another story: he was slightly more at ease here than Williams and his career during the past 10 years has seen him in a variety of roles, such as the animated Bolt and Hairspray.

There is a scene where Travolta and Williams are playing Frisbee and with players charging into each other. There is another scene where Williams is sitting opposite a young girl pretending to drink tea and starts to go insane. The Travolta/Williams partnership could have worked - had they received a better and funnier script, a far better film and had that comedy- based effort been released and made in the 1980s.

It was a desolate, miserable viewing experience and when I look back at Robin Williams's career, I look back with fondness towards Good Morning, Vietnam, Mork & Mindy, Mrs Doubtfire, Hook, Aladdin. But not latter movies such as this - no fondness for Old Dogs, whatsoever. This is much, much worse than Fathers' Day: a comedy film panned by many, and yet Old Dogs is nowhere as funny, hilarious and entertaining and is lacking in heart by comparison. Unlike Fathers' Day's Dale, I didn't care one bit for Robin's other character, Dan.

Even if this film wasn't made by Disney, I still wouldn't have enjoyed it any more. You want to watch a Robin Williams comedy? Go for Good Morning, Vietnam, The Birdcage, Fathers' Day, Mrs Doubtfire. Even obscure fare in The Survivors - any or all of those will do and skip Old Dogs. 

Good thing this was under 1 hr 30 mins - and yet those 1 hr 30 mins felt like ages.


Pros +

- Seeing Robin Williams and John Travolta together

Cons -

- Bad, forced and unfunny comedy

- Incompetent and less than charming plot

- Unwatchable and painfully dire

- Sad to see Robin Williams being past his comedic best

- R-rated type of movie retooled as a Disney & family film doesn't cut it

Final Verdict:

This is an incompetent, unfunny mess with a plot that is incoherent and is totally insufferable and almost unwatchable.

This is also a horribly bad version of Daddy Day Care and this has Razzie award written all over it and as it is so worthy of one. A movie that hasn't a clue what a comedy is if it slaps itself in the face.

I wouldn't say this was the worst film I've sat through, but it is probably the worst Robin Williams comedy I've watched. And that is saying something. 

What Dreams May Come was depressingly horrible - and the film that for me began Robin's downward spiral, August Rush was another bomb, but Old Dogs really takes the cake. I didn't find one scene as feel-good or enjoyable throughout. & the jokes and humour were a mess, not very good and were not well conceived, at all.

This is not what I will remember Robin Williams for. & thus, this is one dog that deserves to be put down.


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