Old dogs, lame tricks

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Filmreviews -

IN A WEEK fea­tur­ing the release of a rom­com star­ring Ger­ard But­ler as a bounty hunter and Jen­nifer Anis­ton as his lovein­ter­est prey, you’d think there’d be no com­pe­ti­tion for the ti­tle of worst new film. Well, you’d be en­tirely cor­rect, but not for the rea­sons you orig­i­nally sus­pected.

Old Dogs is more than a bad film. It’s akin to a Pla­tonic model for all pre­vi­ous bad films and all those yet to come. It could, per­haps, stand as an eter­nal archetype of con­ven­tional Hol­ly­wood bilge.

Ap­par­ently this film cost some­where in the re­gion of $35 mil­lion. Hey, if you wanted some­body to vomit in a bucket and smear the re­sult over cin­ema screens through­out the land, I’d do the job for about half that sum.

In­deed, Old Dogs is so dread­ful – and dread­ful in such fa­mil­iar ways – that you of­ten feel you’re watch­ing a pas­tiche of a ter­ri­ble film on a snarky TV show.

Robin Wil­liams, less funny than Dr Crip­pen and not nearly as charm­ing, plays a mid­dle-aged idiot, owner of some poorly de­fined sports firm, who sud­denly dis­cov­ers that he is the fa­ther of seven-year-old twins. John Tra­volta, Wil­liams’s busi­ness part­ner and an un­likely ladies’ man, some­how gets per­suaded to share child­mind­ing du­ties.

All this comes at a bad time. In a mod­ern echo of the visit from the vicar that al­ways occurred dur­ing Terry and June’s most un­com­fort­able squab­bles, the plot has the boys clos­ing a big deal with a cadre of in­scrutable (no, re­ally) Ja­panese busi­ness­men. Now tell me that doesn’t sound like a par­ody on South Park or Fam­ily Guy.

It’s not even as if it suc­ceeds on its own de­based terms. The poster boasts that the film is from the di­rec­tor of Wild Hogs. Aw­ful as that film was, it had a kind of rou­tine dis­ci­pline to it that re­vealed the con­tri­bu­tion of trained pro­fes­sion­als. Old Dogs, in con­trast, plays like a se­ries of bloop­ers from a film deemed too dread­ful even to be is­sued straight to DVD.

No won­der Robin Wil­liams looks like he’s con­stantly con­tem­plat­ing eter­nal an­ni­hi­la­tion. Oh hang on. He al­ways looks like that th­ese days.


Yeah, that’s what I thought too: Wil­liams and Tra­volta in Old Dogs Di­rected by Walt Becker. Star­ring John Tra­volta, Robin Wil­liams, Kelly Pre­ston, Seth Green, Ella Bleu Tra­volta, Lori Lough­lin, Matt Dil­lon, Bernie Mac, Ann-Mar­gret

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