Disney’s new film “Old Dogs” features two great friends and business partners as the lead characters. They manage clients together, laugh together and when one of them needs consolation, the other one is willing to help provide a carefree and wild night to help his friend forget about his troubles. After such a wild night unfolds in a flashback, the consequences come back to one character nearly a decade later as he finds out that he has two children that he did not even know existed. The plot of the movie revolves around the two friends trying to trying to take care of these children with their very little experience in the parenting department. However, although “Old Dogs” has some funny moments, the movie ultimately has more bark than bite.
In the film, Robin Williams plays Dan, a divorced man who is great friends with his business partner Charlie, played by John Travolta. After Charlie takes Dan out for the aforementioned wild evening, that night becomes fodder for business clients during sales meetings. However, several years after the event takes place, Dan is told suddenly that he has two children that he has to take care of as their mother serves a couple of weeks of prison time for a minor offense. The premise of a father bonding after time apart is nothing new and unfortunately, the movie does not provide a lot of laughs from the idea.
Many of the jokes are crude and most of them fall flat. From the story of the wild night together to tasteless humor about an actual old dog, the comedic bits are tired and disappointing and they are often introduced through ridiculous plot twists. After the first part of the movie, though, there are a few comedic moments that made me and the audience I was watching with laugh out loud, including a funny bit about the comedic side effects of certain pills and penguin attacks from a zoo. However, those few laughs do not compensate for the rest of this film.
The movie, like many family-friendly films before, does feature some positive themes about fatherhood. Eventually, both Dan and Charlie discover the joys that come from having children. Both businessmen realize what the kids mean to them and both develop as characters because of that. The theme is a solid one but the movie wastes it with crude humor and not enough comedy.
“Old Dogs” comes with a solid class of actors including its two leads, Travolta and Williams. Kelly Preston, Rita Wilson and Seth Green also join the fun as supporting characters. These actors have all had solid roles before but they are wasted in this often unfunny picture.
Many families will likely go to see “Old Dogs” this weekend and some will likely enjoy some of the crude humor. However, there are smarter and funnier movies that could have been made with the same overall concept than this and those films would have succeeded far better than. Unfortunately, these “old dogs” have not yet learned any new tricks.