Old dogs, lame tricks
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