Sigh…sometimes you have to review bad live-action Disney movies….and sometimes….you pray that you don’t have to review bad live-action Disney movies. And today’s film is an excellent example of a bad live-action Disney movie. Starring Robin Williams and John Travolta as lifelong pals, let’s take a look at “Old Dogs”.
And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!
The movie begins with opening credits paired with a montage of mostly Photoshopped pictures showing Robin Williams and John Travolta as best friends since day one.
Yes, their characters actually have names, but I don’t remember what they are. I mean, are you honestly gonna call them other than Robin Williams and John Travolta?
Once the credits are finished, we cut to the present day where Robin Williams and John Travolta are in their…late 40’s/early 50’s. They are partners in a sports marketing firm and are currently trying to close a deal with a Japanese company.
So what’s their strategy to get the Japanese board to like them and start the deal off on the right foot? Well, it involves John Travolta telling a “HILARIOUS” back-story regarding Robin Williams. And what is that HILARIOUS back-story?
Well, Robin Williams, seven years prior to this, went through a divorce. To console him, John Travolta took him to Miami to party and forget his troubles. They partied and drank so much that Robin Williams went to get a tattoo inked on his chest that would say “Free Man”, but instead it came out as “Fremont”!
John Travolta continues on with the story and mentions that Robin Williams (while in his inebriated state) fell in love with a woman named Vicki, played by Kelly Preston, and they actually got married the same day! Then after sobering up, they divorced the next day!
Our sincerest apologies to Japanese people everywhere!
So this…apparently hilarious story regarding Robin Williams’ divorce and re-marriage earns the Japanese board’s attention and they agree to work with John Travolta and Robin Williams in the upcoming weeks to solidify the deal. You can already tell what level of humor they stoop to in this film.
Oh, you might also be wondering whether the Kelly Preston’s appearance was only meant to be a cameo to serve the purpose of comic relief for some Japanese board members?
Actually no, she re-appears in the movie. She’s apparently in town and wants to meet Robin Williams. But before he can meet her, John Travolta suggests that Robin Williams get a tan because…I dunno, Miami girls only like guys with tans?
And due to the malfunctioning tanning device, Robin Williams now becomes a “brown” man and gets mistaken for being Indian and Hispanic.
Well at least, it can’t get more embarrassing!
Apparently, it can!
Thankfully, Vicki recognizes him, despite his extreme tan, and they catch up over a meal.
So what’s the reason for Vicki calling up on Robin after all these years? Well, it seems that she’s going to jail for two weeks because she tied herself to a bulldozer and burned the blueprints for a chemical plant that was supposed to be built in her neighborhood. Ooh, you’re an evil woman, Vicki!
But what does this have to do with Robin? Well, honestly…nothing really. I mean, there really is no connection between her going to jail and Robin Williams. The movie might as well end here.
The truth, is that Vicki has kids. Two kids to be precise, Zach and Emily, played by Conner Rayburn and Ella Blue Travolta, respectively. They’re twins and they’re 7 years old and are going to be staying with a friend of Vicki’s while she’s at jail.
And again, this doesn’t seem to have anything to do with Robin Williams.
Well, here’s the clincher: Robin Williams is actually the father of these kids!
And I guess Vicki just wanted Robin to know this and spend time with the kids before she goes to jail. Again, why now after all these years? Well, it’s because Vicki realized that Zach’s never been inside a men’s room before.
Hey, I’ve never been in a women’s bathroom before, but do you hear me complaining?
So they then decide to go out together as a “family” for a day so that the kids can get to know their dad better. Oh, and Vicki gets rid of Robin Williams’ tan via some “homemade skin treatments”. So the entire scene and ongoing plot device with Robin Williams having a bad tan was…
Their day is spent at a carnival where nothing much happens. Well, Zach did get his dream of being in a men’s bathroom to come true; I guess that counts for something happening.
Once the day is finished, Robin Williams drops them all by Vicki’s friend’s house…but manages to slam the trunk down on Vicki’s friend’s hands.
This doesn’t end well.
Since Vicki’s friend is now hospitalized, she needs to find someone else to look after her kids for the two weeks that she’ll spend in jail. And of course, she picks Robin Williams to look after her kids. Finally the long exposition at the meal makes sense!
So the day FINALLY arrives when Vicki heads to jail (she tells the kids that she’s going to some spa or the like for two weeks) and the kids stay with Robin. Since Robin lives in an adults-only complex, he persuades John Travolta to allow them all to stay at his house for the two weeks and help him take care of the kids. John Travolta reluctantly agrees.
Hey, I realized something! Kelly Preston is John Travolta’s wife in real life and Ella Blue Travolta is John Travolta’s daughter in real life. Hmm…I wonder how awkward it is to see someone else kiss and be with your wife and daughter on-screen while you’re in the movie yourself?
Oh well, back to the plot! Robin Williams and John Travolta do their best to take care of the kids (even though none of them really know how) by taking them camping, to ballgames, and other places all the while trying to get their work done with the Japanese board.
So, the rest of the movie is pretty much, as you’d imagine it to be: COMEDIC RELIEF FILLER!
Things occur such as having John Travolta’s house “child-proofed” by professional “child-proofers”,
Robin Williams and John Travolta being mistaken for the grandparents of the kids,
Robin Williams and John Travolta being mistaken for a gay couple raising the kids,
the kids accidentally mixing up Robin Williams and John Travolta’s medications which results in “HILARIOUS” scenes,
and even Robin Williams and John Travolta seeking the help of a children’s TV show host, Jimmy Lunchbox (played by Bernie Mac in his last film role) to aid Robin Williams to become a better father via the use of an extremely high-quality, expensive, motion-capture suit!
As the days go by, the Japanese company end up finalizing the deal with Robin WIlliams and John Travolta which is great news, of course! The bad news is that, due to some unforeseen circumstances, Robin Williams and John Travolta have to relocate to Tokyo in order to continue working with the Japanese company.
This bothers Robin Williams as he’s just gotten close with his kids and doesn’t want to leave them again. To make matters worse, the two weeks are up, and Vicki is out of jail. Hearing the news, Vicki and the kids’ feelings are hurt bad and they remain upset as she takes her kids back home with her.
Of course it doesn’t end like that! Once Robin Williams arrives in Japan, he realizes that his place is with his kids and he heads back to USA to make matters right. Wow, what a quick transition!
When he arrives in America, he realizes that Emily’s having a birthday party in a town zoo. But when he and John Travolta try to enter, they are rejected because they’re not on the guest list. And as you rightly guessed, they break into the zoo, which leads to HILARIOUS happenings!
And the usual happy ending happens: Robin Williams wins back Vicki and the kids’ love and he and John Travolta remain friends and business partners!
So that was “Old Dogs”. Was it bad? Yes, yes it was!
The plot’s too basic and at the same time, too clumsy. The acting is effortless, with the exception of Robin Williams who seems to be trying. And the jokes aren’t funny! I’m not saying that I didn’t laugh at all throughout the movie; I did chuckle every now and then, but the movie is supposed to be a comedy! And if a comedy only manages to get me laughing sporadically and not continuously, then it’s failed in its job.
And despite all its problems, the film actually saw decent success in the box office! Wow, people will watch anything! Thankfully, there can’t be a worse live-action Disney film than this!
(You can click on the image below for an enlarged version of my rating sheet.)
So, the final score is 12/35 = 34.29% (F) !