It is the exceptionally rare comedy that offers not merely humor to its audience, but the opportunity for them to feel several other emotions as well. One of Disney's latest films, and one releasing to home video this week, Old Dogs, manages to make its audience feel any number of emotions. Sadly, rarely is humor one of them.
Starring John Travolta and Robin Williams; co-starring Kelly Preston, Lori Laughlin, Conner Rayburn, Ella Bleu Travolta, and Seth Green; and with appearances by Bernie Mac, Matt Dillon, Ann Margret, Amy Sedaris, and Rita Wilson, Old Dogs, from the moment the credits roll, has the feel to it of one of those films that put together a great cast to overcompensate for its poorly conceived and executed script. And the aforementioned stars try – they really try – to make the best of the plodding, nonsensical lines and situations handed them, but still don't succeed.
Old Dogs, directed by Walt Becker (Wild Hogs), finds Travolta and Williams as lifelong best friends who, years ago, went into sports marketing together. Travolta's Charlie has stayed the single playboy whereas Williams' Dan got married but ended up divorced years prior to the film's opening. In true best bud fashion, when that momentous event occurred in Dan's life, Charlie took him to Miami so they could get drunk, party, and get over it. That, event however not only left Dan with another marriage (it was annulled), but, as he finds out towards the opening of this film, twins (now nearly seven) as well. When the kids' mom (Kelly Preston) has to go to jail for two weeks, it falls to Dan to watch the kids he's never wanted but now has.
As you may have already surmised, that is where the majority of the film tries to find the funny – in Dan (and Charlie, who gets roped into helping) learning how to be a father and manage his business which is in the midst of a big deal at the same time. Not only is the eventual success of Dan and Charlie's parenting endeavors clear from the opening of the film, but far too many of the jokes are as well. There are repeated references to both men's age in terms of their being more suitable to be grandparents than parents and the quantity of medicine they take and even a few perfunctory hits to the groin (without which, it seems this film believes, no comedy can ever be successful).