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"OLD DOGS"
(2009) (John Travolta, Robin Williams) (PG)

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QUICK TAKE:
Comedy: A couple of lifelong friends and business partners find their lives turned upside down when one finds out he is the father of 7-year-old twins and must suddenly take care of them as a major business deal is going down.
PLOT:
Charlie (JOHN TRAVOLTA) and Dan (ROBIN WILLIAMS) are lifelong friends and business partners. Charlie is a confirmed bachelor, while Dan is a divorcee. On a trip to South Beach in 2002 to "celebrate" Dan's recent divorce, Charlie introduces his buddy to fun-loving Vicki (KELLY PRESTON). One drunken night of partying later and the two are married. Once sober, though, they realize their mistake and have the marriage annulled.

Flash forward to 2009. Charlie and Dan are on the verge of the biggest business deal of their lives when Vicki reappears and informs Dan that he is the father of a twin boy and girl (CONNER RAYBURN and ELLA BLEU TRAVOLTA) from their one night together. Vicki also tells him she is going to jail for two weeks and needs someone to care for the two kids.

Dan, eager to get back with Vicki, agrees to take the children in and convinces Charlie to help him since he was the one who convinced him to go to Miami in the first place seven years earlier. What follows is a series of slapstick sequences as the two men try and juggle fatherhood with the demands of their new, high-profile client. When their colleague, Ralph (SETH GREEN), louses-up the deal, Dan must make a choice between moving to Japan or staying behind and becoming a family man.

OUR TAKE: 2 out of 10
Wow, what a bad movie! "Old Dogs" is little more than a string of poorly set-up, barely connected sequences of slapstick and mistaken identity that were fresh and funny 25 or 30 years ago when John Ritter and Joyce DeWitt were swapping hot, blonde roommates on "Three's Company."

In 2009, the film feels like a big-screen sitcom that is at least a decade too late. It's a stale, desperate attempt to ring laughs out of kids breaking wind and guys getting hit in the crotch with golf balls all under the guise of "family comedy."

Robin Williams stars as Dan, a sports marketing exec who discovers that he is the father of 7-year-old twins (Conner Rayburn and Ella Bleu Travolta). He manages to strong-arm his best friend and business partner, Charlie (John Travolta), into helping raise the boy and the girl for two weeks while his former one-night stand (Kelly Preston) serves a two-week prison sentence. Of course, the two have the biggest business deal of their lives going down at the same time.

What follows is "Three Men and a Baby" lite. And "Three Men and a Baby" was already pretty "lite" when it came out 22 years ago! Of course, we get gags involving "Where do babies come from?" and hijinks at a TGI Friday's-style family restaurant. And it's yet another Hollywood lecture movie made my zillionaires that demonizes working dads for not spending enough time with their kids even as they are clamoring for toys, trips and other expensive amenities.

Everyone is in full, cash-your-paycheck mode here. It's a film that makes Travolta's last broad comedy - "Wild Hogs" - look like a comic masterpiece. A few funny moments late in the film involving Seth Green's junior executive being pawed by a zoo gorilla (it's in the trailer you can download for free on the Internet) save this film from being a total disaster. But it still only rates a 2 out of 10. (T. Durgin)




Reviewed November 21, 2009 / Posted November 25, 2009


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