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Friday
Nov272009

Old Dogs

Fresh off the "success" of Wild Hogs (which inexplicably made over $250 million worldwide), director Walt Becker must have decided to undergo an experiment. After making a large sum of cash with a fairly awful movie, how low could he go and have the same success? How else could he justify the stinking filth that is Old Dogs? Not content with simply titling his new movie similarly to Wild Hogs (even going so far as to have it rhyme), he has used the same formula, hoping to appeal to that same demographic that made his previous movie such a success. It's shameful and his movie is even worse.

Old Dogs stars John Travolta as Charlie and Robin Williams as Dan, who has, for the first time in many years, been contacted by his previous lover. After a drunken evening in Miami, he hooked up with her, but never heard from her again. Well, it turns out she got pregnant and had twins, a boy and a girl. Dan is a father! Hooray! Except Dan has no idea what to do and he ends up going through the typical father-realizes-he-wasn't-there-for-his-kids-and-tries-to-rectify-the-situation-by-coming-to-a-self-realization-that-his-job-doesn't-matter-anymore-and-they-are-all-that-matters-to-him story arc. Yawn.

Forgive my haste. I've been typing here for only a couple of minutes, not really paying attention to what I'm writing. It's the day after Thanksgiving and after leaving my family yesterday to see this turd, I find it hard to justify giving it any more exposure than it already has. Therefore, I'm doing this quick so I can post it up and wipe my memory clean of anything and everything relating to it.

Here's the thing about these live action PG rated Disney movies. They are all fairly stupid. However, they are also pretty harmless. Most are merely time wasters that don't deserve to see the light of day, but are enjoyed by families nonetheless. Fine, but Old Dogs is not one of those movies. Believe it or not, it's actually kind of offensive. With racist stereotypes, homophobic jokes and one very subtle black face reference that may pass over some people's heads, Old Dogs is a testament to vile hatred disguised as humor.

Another example of this movie's offensive "comedy" can be seen in its mockery of death and grieving family members. One scene shows Charlie sitting in a circle with a group of people discussing their loved ones' final moments. One girl in particular explains how someone she loved very much battled cancer for months before she passed. Prior to this scene, Charlie takes a wrong pill and his face muscles spasm, forcing his mouth into a wide laughing smile. The scene is played for laughs because, yeah, cancer is hilarious.

Any humor that isn't offensive in the traditional sense is offensive in its juvenile humor. Slapstick and pee and poo jokes abound in this wretched farce. Old Dogs takes the low road by trying to appeal to families, but then when it senses its losing the audience, it throws in a sight gag of someone getting hit in the crotch because, for some reason, people still find this funny. If you could base the nation's intelligence off the laughter in this theater, we'd be doomed.

Outside of the racist, homophobic, unfunny humor, the most egregious offense in Old Dogs is its poor narrative, which relies largely on contrivances to keep it going. Since the kids aren't Charlie's, why is he in the mix? Because Dan forces him to be their uncle. Eventually, they move into Charlie's house. Why? Because Dan's apartment complex doesn't allow children (which could be the dumbest thing I've ever heard). Dan and Charlie run a sports marketing firm and need to get their work done, but can't. It turns out the kids are in some wilderness group and they have to accompany them on a scheduled weekend camping trip instead. After the inevitable break-up between Dan and Charlie, a sudden death causes Charlie to realize how important Dan is to him. Did I mention the death is of his dog? The list goes on and on.

I hated Wild Hogs, but it wasn't this bad. To be fair, I had a chuckle here and there and I felt that John Travolta and Robin Williams were competent in their roles. They are both great actors and brought what little charisma they could to these one-dimensional characters, but does that really excuse this film's insensitivity and bad taste? Absolutely not. Just like an old dog, this one should be put out of its misery.

Old Dogs receives 1/5

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