Old Dogs (Combo Pack)Overview -
Two best friends—one unlucky-in-love divorcé (Robin Williams) and the other a fun-loving bachelor (John Travolta)—have their lives turned upside down when they're unexpectedly charged with the care of six-year-old twins while on the verge of the biggest business deal of their lives. The not-so-kidsavvy bachelors stumble in their efforts to take care of the twins (newcomers Ella Bleu Travolta and Conner Rayburn), leading to one debacle after another, and perhaps to a new-found understanding of what's really important in life.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
Oh man, where to start. I knew going into 'Old Dogs' it was going to be bad, but this bad? I had no idea it could be this bad. Like watching a train wreck, 'Old Dogs' derails in the first fifteen minutes and crashes head on into terrible jokes, stupid sight gags, and preposterous, sappy situation humor.
Employing the acting chops of seasoned comedic actors like Robin Williams, John Travolta, and Seth Green, 'Old Dogs' manages to play dead when it comes to genuinely funny things happening. From the very beginning, where we pan over ridiculously Photoshopped pictures of Travolta and Williams hanging out throughout their formative years, to the ending -- which involves a jet-pack and a pack of angry penguins -- 'Old Dogs' doesn't manage one sincere, authentic, or amusing moment.
Charlie (Travolta) and Dan (Williams) have been lifelong friends. When they grew up they founded a sports marketing company. Now they're rich, still best buds, and have trouble realizing that they're considered old. During one of Charlie's patented sales stories, we find out that Dan once got married during a drunken fest of debauchery (PG debauchery), in South Beach, Miami. He got it annulled a few hours later, no harm done right? Wrong. Dan's got kids and they've got to stay with him, because their mom (the woman Dan was married to for just a few hours) is going to jail for two weeks for trespassing…
Nevermind, there's no point in really going over all of that. Charlie and Dan have to watch the kids for two weeks, that's the gist. Got it? Good. Wacky hijinks ensue as Charlie and Dan find themselves battling mid-life crises while taking care of the kids, all while trying to secure the biggest business deal of their lives.
Throughout the movie I couldn't help but wonder what this movie, with the same actors, and the same overall plot would have been like if it were directed by someone like Judd Apatow. He could have made this work, and it probably would have been pretty damn funny. 'Old Dogs' is instead helmed by director Walt Becker of 'Wild Hogs' fame. Becker is in love with cringe-worthy gags, like when Charlie and Dan get their medicines mixed up and have to deal with the side effects. In a heavy-handed foreshadowing scene Charlie and Dan discuss their pills, the side effects, and how each one of them is worst than the last. When the meds are mixed up by the kids and put into the wrong containers, Charlie ends up suffering from facial paralysis, while Dan suffers from severe loss of depth perception. This all begs the question that if these meds were taken by the right person, would that person suffer the same bizarrely stupid side effects? Becker uses CG animation to give Charlie a Joker-like smile. Yup, so funny. Har, har, har.
It's just one gag after another, each time pushing more and more towards the realm of the sitcom laugh track. Williams and Travolta ham their roles up so much they're nigh unwatchable. You know when you're out walking your dog, and when it goes number two you've got to do bend over and pick it up with a little plastic baggy? Watching 'Old Dogs' feels a bit like that, but the stink is worse.
'Old Dogs' does have a little redeeming value when it comes to the video presentation. Presented in 1080p with an AVC-encode Disney's high-def transfer looks polished and well done. The biggest problem with the presentation is the overall orange-ish skin tones that constantly plague the actors. For the most part everyone looks like they've had a spray on tan at one time or another. Everything else looks pretty decent however. Colors are nicely rendered, even though outside whites tend to be a little blown out. Fine detail is top-notch although tinier patterns like on one of Dan's suits and the fine detail of Charlie's bathroom wall are hotbeds for aliasing. Some noise specks also crop up, which is a shame, especially for a film that just came out in theaters last year. When all is said and done, this is a decent looking transfer, but it isn't anything that warrants a purchase.
Disney's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio presentation is nicely rendered and balanced. Some of the sound effects however, particularly the groans and growls from the gorilla, can overpower everything else in the sound field. Dialogue is nice and clear, and the soundtrack is given ample room to shine as it bleeds into the surround channels for an encompassing feel. Ambient noise in restaurants, at campouts, and during an Ultimate Frisbee game are nicely done and create an enveloping listening atmosphere. LFE is plentiful here, but at times it can be overwhelming. Directionality of voices and pans are adequately placed, but at times sound fairly artificial. Like the video presentation, 'Old Dogs' audio presentation is commendable, but again isn't enough of a reason to even think about watching this film.
I think this could be the first instance in my time at High-Def Digest where I've considered giving a Blu-ray a better score because there are so few features. When you dislike a movie this much, there's nothing worse than spending more of your time watching the features.
- Audio Commentary - I'm going to be completely honest with the HDD readers here. I did not…scratch that could not, bring myself to watching this entire movie again with the audio commentary on. Instead I spot checked it. I know it's evil and something that shouldn't be done by a reviewer, but I couldn't bear watching the entire movie again this time accompanied by a lifeless commentary from Becker, writer David Diamond, writer David Weissman, and producer Andrew Panay. After checking a few minutes of the beginning about ten minutes in the middle and a few minutes at the end I realized that the commentary provided by these guys isn't anything worth listening to. Instead of treating this movie like the dog it is, they seriously talk about how good they think it is, how wonderful it was working with Travolta and Williams. It's just as lame as the movie, let's move on.
- Deleted Scenes (HD, 4 min) - Two deleted scenes and an alternate ending are included. Think about how bad something would have to be to actually get cut from this movie, then think if you want to waste four minutes of your life watching what actually did get cut from this movie. I rest my case.
- Blooper Reel (HD, 3 min) - The bloopers contain one or two laughs, which is one or two laughs more than the film itself. I was really wanting Williams to bust out a couple of F-words after line flubs. Alas.
Stay away from this movie. Stay far, far away. Don't even go near it. Just pretend there's a sign on it saying "Beware Old Dogs." What a waste of a good 90 minutes. You'll never get it back, I'm warning you. Even the decent video and audio aren't worth the agony. You've been warned.
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