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Walt Becker
John Travolta, Robin Williams, Kelly Preston, Conner Rayburn, Ella Bleu Travolta, Lori Loughlin, Seth Green, Bernie Mac
Writing Credits:
David Diamond, David Weissman

Sit. Stay. Play Dad.

John Travolta and Robin Williams star in Old Dogs, the hilarious family comedy that will have you howling. Two best friends have their lives turned upside down when they're unexpectedly charged with the care of seven-year-old twins while on the verge of the biggest business deal of their lives. The clueless bachelors stumble in their efforts to take care of the children, leading to one debacle after another, with a gorilla and some pecking penguins - and perhaps to a newfound understanding of what's really important in life. Featuring a riotously funny supporting cast including Seth Green, Kelly Preston, Matt Dillon and Lori Laughlin, Old Dogs is a laugh-a-minute comedy filled with heart.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$16.894 million on 3425 screens.
Domestic Gross
$48.481 million.

Rated PG

Widescreen 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Mexican Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Mexican Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:
Mexican Spanish

Runtime: 88 min.
Price: $44.99
Release Date: 3/9/2010

Disc One:
• Audio Commentary with Director Walt Becker, Producer Andrew Panay, and Writers David Diamond and David Weissman
• “Young Dogs Learn Old Tricks” Featurette
• Bloopers
• Deleted Scenes
• Music Videos
• Sneak Peeks
Disc Two:
• Digital Copy
Disc Three:
• DVD Copy


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Old Dogs [Blu-Ray] (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 3, 2010)

I would’ve thought a family comedy starring Robin Williams and John Travolta would’ve done good business, especially if that flick opened the big Thanksgiving weekend and came from director Walt Becker, the guy who helmed the super-successful Wild Hogs.

I would’ve thought wrong. Even with all that going for it, 2009’s Old Dogs fizzled at the box office. It took in a mere $48 million and failed to make an imprint with moviegoers.

Business partners/friends Dan (Williams) and Charlie (Travolta) find themselves on the verge of a massive deal. While they wait to finalize this, a blast from Dan’s past returns: Vicki (Kelly Preston), a woman he briefly married seven years earlier during a drunken vacation.

Dan hopes this will rekindle their liquored-up love, but he encounters a surprise: he’s the father of her twins Zach (Conner Rayburn) and Emily (Ella Bleu Travolta). Because Vicki’s going to jail after a corporate protest, she needs someone to watch the kids. Her friend dshakjdsa (Rita Wilson) initially plans to do this, but a mishap sends her to the hospital.

This leaves Vicki in need of child care, and Dan steps up to do his fatherly duty. For the two weeks Vicki will be incarcerated, Dan takes in the seven-year-olds. He forces Charlie to come along for the ride as these middle-aged men attempt to cope with the world of sudden fatherhood.

While not a classic – or even a flick I would call good – I didn’t actively dislike Wild Hogs. Sure, the film came with a sizeable allotment of tacky gags and obvious situations, but it still managed a smattering of amusing bits. Though the film lacked much spark, at least it kept me mildly entertained.

Old Dogs was the awful piece of lowest common denominator tripe I expected Hogs to be. What’s wrong here? Pretty much everything, starting with the shambles of a script. It takes the basic story of Three Men and a Baby - a pretty lousy film itself – and gives us little more than an incoherent collection of lame gags.

And contrived ones, too. The filmmakers don’t even bother to attempt logic. At the start, Charlie tells his “favorite Dan story”, one that just happens to set up all the backstory we need. That’d be fine were it not for the fact that Charlie’s crowd-pleasing tale really isn’t entertaining; we’re supposed to believe that folks eat up his vacation anecdote, but it’s not even vaguely amusing.

The idiocy doesn’t stop there. As I watched, I started to list all of the absurd, contrived moments. Eventually I gave up because I realized that the film consistent of nothing but absurd, contriver moments. It presents one piece of stupidity after another, without any logic along the way.

Dogs is such a mess that it can’t even manage to maintain a consistent theme. The kids exist more as an excuse for the occasional gag than anything else, but they don’t really motivate much of the action. Plenty of the material has no relation to the film’s basic scenario, and that adds to the sense that it’s nothing more than a random collection of comedic moments.

Perhaps I should’ve put “comedic” in quotes, for I don’t want to imply that anything funny occurs. I suppose I could’ve more easily forgiven the incoherent nature of the story if the jokes actually scored. To say they flop would be an understatement. Dogs consists of one stale, stupid scenario/joke after another. I won’t say that each one is less amusing than the last because the film begins at the bottom. It’s so stupid and unfunny from the start that it has nowhere to go but up.

Which it fails to do. Dogs starts at zero and stays there through each one of its excruciating 88 minutes. Dare I say that this is the worst film of 2009? Maybe, maybe not, but if it’s not the crummiest entry of the year, it’s gotta be close.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B-/ Bonus C+

Old Dogs appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Though never a bad presentation, the transfer lacked consistency.

Some of the ups and downs connected to sharpness. Much of the movie displayed good clarity and accuracy, but occasional exceptions occurred; more than a handful of shots appeared a bit soft and fuzzy. Nonetheless, the majority of the flick was concise and well-defined. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and the presentation lacked edge haloes. Source flaws also failed to mar the image.

In terms of colors, the flick went with a moderately subdued set of tones. Hues stayed on the natural side, with a mild golden feel to things. Within those parameters, the tones looked fine. Blacks were fairly deep and firm, but shadows were erratic. Low-light shots came across as somewhat dense and too dark. None of the transfer’s issues were major, but they impaired the presentation enough to knock this down to a “B-“.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it offered a functional effort and that was about it. Of course, I didn’t expect a dazzling soundfield from this sort of comedy, and I got exactly what I anticipated. In terms of effects, general ambience ruled the day. Surround usage stayed limited; the back speakers gently fleshed out various settings but did little more than that. A few wacky comedy effects cropped up from the rears and that was it.

In those forward channels, the music provided nice stereo separation and opened up the mix reasonably well. There wasn’t a whole lot of activity or movement, but the effects conveyed a passable sense of space and place. The track functioned appropriately for the story.

Audio quality appeared fine. Dialogue was consistently warm and natural, and speech displayed no concerns related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects seemed appropriately accurate. There usually wasn’t much to hear, but the various elements were clean and distinct, and bass was good in a couple of loud scenes like some at the zoo. The music came across as acceptably distinctive. This was a standard “comedy mix” and became a positive reproduction of the material.

When we shift to the set’s extras, we begin with an audio commentary from director Walt Becker, producer Andrew Panay, and writers David Diamond and David Weissman. All four sit together for this running, screen-specific chat about sets and locations, music, cast, characters and performances, story areas and script changes, music, stunts and effects.

A bad movie inspires a decidedly mediocre commentary. While we find a decent amount of movie-making information, we also discover lots of praise for the film. I suppose it’s helpful that they tell us what’s funny; I certainly couldn’t tell that when I watched the flick. The commentary’s generally decent, but it’s not especially interesting.

A short featurette called Young Dogs Learn Old Tricks runs two minutes, 51 seconds. Hosted by young actors Ella Travolta and Conner Rayburn, they ask “tough questions” of Robin Williams and John Travolta. They shoot out some forgettable queries in this fluffy promo piece.

A collection of Bloopers goes for two minutes, 26 seconds. With noted improviser Williams in tow, we get a couple of minor chuckles here. It’s still mostly the same old goofs and giggles, though.

Three Deleted Scenes last a total of three minutes, 30 seconds. These include “Body Checku” (1:40), “Pate” (0:38) and “Alternate End Tag: Tables Turned” (1:12). “Checku” and “Tables” just extend existing scenes; none of the additions make the sequences any funnier. “Pate” is tacky and stupid like everything else in the movie. I don’t know why the scenes were cut, as they’re no worse than anything found during the final cut.

Next we find two Music Videos. Bryan Adams’ “You’ve Been a Friend to Me” won’t revive his long-dormant career, but the video is more interesting than most. It takes the same path as McCartney’s “Coming Up” and casts Adams as all the members of his band. It also lacks any of the expected film footage, which makes it significantly more enjoyable than most videos from movies.

As for “Every Little Step”, it comes from John and Ella Travolta. Aided by a whole lot of AutoTune, they remake the Bobby Brown tune in horrifying fashion. (Ella doesn’t actually sing; she does a little spoken-word bit but mostly is there to look cute.) Maybe fans will be happy to see John dance again, but I think the video’s a serious embarrassment.

A few ads open the disc. We get clips for Beauty and the Beast and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. These also appear under Sneak Peeks along with promos for Genuine Treasure: Tinker Bell, Toy Story, Toy Story 2, The Princess and the Frog, When In Rome, ESPN World Cup 2010 and James and the Giant Peach. No trailer for Old Dogs appears here.

A second disc offers a Digital Copy of the movie. This allows you to transfer the film to a computer or portable gadget. Super-dee-duper!

Finally, a third platter provides a DVD Copy of Old Dogs . If you want to own Old Dogs but aren’t yet Blu-ray capable, it’s a good bonus.

Never did I think I’d look back fondly on Wild Hogs, but Old Dogs is so relentlessly stupid and insulting that it makes its predecessor look like a classic. Heck, Dogs almost makes the atrocious Three men and a Baby look good; while insipid, at least that 80s hit managed to sustain a level of internal consistency absent from the incoherent, pointless Dogs. The Blu-ray provides decent picture and audio along with fairly mediocre supplements. Do yourself a favor and avoid this awful film.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1.6666 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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