Sunday, January 8, 2012

Day 39: Old Dogs

"This is my crib. This is where I kick back, sink the three point shot, you know. Throw the TDs."

Motherfucking Old Dogs. If a worse movie has been made in the last three years, I haven't seen it. As far as woefully misguided career decisions go for both of its stars, this may be a low point. Apparently the film started out as an R-rated buddy comedy and upon testing poorly, was re-edited as a PG family comedy. I'm sorry to say that this not only sounds plausible, it's the only possible explanation for such a mixed bag of a movie. The film is filled with gay panic and geriatric jokes that would have no business being in a family movie, and its pathetic attempt at moralizing near the end will be completely lost on anyone watching under the age of ten.

John Travolta and Robin Williams play best friends Charlie and Dan, two sports marketing gurus. Really quick, what the fuck is sports marketing? The film never bothers to explain what it is, so I thought maybe someone else knows. Any help would be appreciated, as this appears to be a very lucrative vocation, and seems to require nothing resembling even basic competence. So yeah, they're sports marketing experts who are about to close some sort of big deal with a Japanese firm, again, the details of which are considered so superfluous that they're never explained beyond being referred to as the biggest deal of their lives.

Dan is reunited with an old flame, Vicki (Kelly Preston), whom he married several years ago during a night of drunken debauchery, but quickly had the marriage annulled. Vicki is off to prison for two weeks for environmental activism, but decides first to tell Dan that he fathered her seven year-old twins during their 24-hour marriage.

Dan meets the kids and, through a series of wacky happenings, ends up agreeing to take them while she's in prison. Since Dan lives in an adults only condo, he takes the kids to Charlie's condo. Then the hijinks begin as they are put through a series of rigorous set pieces that come and go so quickly, if you get up to go to the bathroom during this film, you're likely to miss an entire subplot.

Now, I don't know what it's like to live the free-wheeling, high-flying life of a sports marketing maven, but these guys are absurdly over-committed and over-extended. They don't seem to say no to anything, they constantly have something going on. Among the absurd shit they get involved in: A trip to scout camp (where Matt Dillon and Justin Long cameo), baby-proofing Charlie's condo for two seven year-olds (where Luis Guzman and Dax Shepherd cameo), attending a bereavement group (where Ann-Margaret cameos), an impromptu tea party with children's entertainer Jimmy Lunchbox (Bernie Mac in his last screen performance {let that set in}) where Dan is outfitted with a cybernetic suit that is controlled by Charlie for some unknown reason.

The sheer amount of shit these two do in roughly forty-five minutes of screen time is categorically ridiculous. Scenes come and go so quickly, for example, the kids mix up Dan and Charlie's medicine boxes, causing the most absurd side effects to affect them at the exact wrong moments. Dan has to go golfing with the head of the Japanese firm and he has no depth perception. This bit leads to no less than five nut shots in the span of three minutes of screen time. Five nut shots. There are entire slapstick comedies that don't have five nut shots in the entirety of the film, let alone slamming them all into a three minute sequence.

Dan's borderline psychotic behavior on the golf course inexplicably earns him the respect of the Japanese businessman, and the two companies sign their deal, in spite of the fact that Dan acted and behaved like a full-on fucking psychopath throughout the entire golf match.

Dan and Charlie send their protege Seth Green (I'm not bothering to look up the name of his character) to Japan to be their liaison in Japan, but he is hypnotized and becomes a slave to some sort of karaoke master in Tokyo and never shows up for his job. I'm not god damned making that up. It sounds like I am, but I'm not. He becomes a slave... nevermind, go back and re-read it and really take the time to absorb that information. Then think about the fact that this is happening in a kids movie. Then add in the fact that it's yet another fucking subplot in a film that is virtually all subplot.

Anyway, this forces the Japanese firm to ask dan and Charlie to move to Japan and take his place. This means Dan has to move to Japan right when he just started bonding with his kids and their mother is getting out of jail. It's a long fucking way to travel for a plot complication, but it's the road these writers took. Speaking of which, the "writers" of this movie have actually written other movies. Like six or seven of them. David Diamond and David Weissman, look up their imdb credits. They're not great movies, but there's more than just this abortion on their resume, so conceivably someone thinks they have talent.

Dan and Charlie get to Japan but flee when Dan blows their big meeting because he's preoccupied with thinking about his kids and they fly back to America, get into a fight, reconcile and then drive to Vermont to make it in time for the kids' birthday party at a zoo. The zoo is closed so they have to break into the zoo. They get attacked by a gorilla & penguins, before Dan buys a jetpack from a guy to fly into the party. Again, not making anything up. Now the jetpack malfunctions just before Dan can land, but just after Vicki and the kids realize it's him, and he crashes lands in a fountain. Wearing a jetpack.

This should have killed him. In fact, the only time I genuinely laughed was when I thought about how funny the whole movie would have ended up being had they gone this route. Imagine that, the guy quits his job, comes back to see his kids, commits at least two felonies and then dies, right in front of his new family. In the hands of better writers and a better director, this could have been a thoroughly effective ending and would have redeemed the preceding eighty minutes. Alas, they give us a tacked-on, afterthought of a happy ending with the guys getting their jobs back.

John Travolta and Robin Williams have been nominated for and won Oscars respectively. They are good actors when given the right roles. Here, they're unbearably fucking terrible. I mean it, these are two completely likable leading men and I hated their guts. And their hair pieces were awful. They deserved their own screen credit. They should both know better and hopefully have learned their lesson, and won't be starring in dreck like this again any time soon.

Bad movie fans, this is a movie you must see. It's blissfully bad. It's the kind of movie that bad movie aficionados get down on their knees and thank the heavens above for. It's not so bad it's good, it's so bad it's fucking awful, but with a couple of friends and a couple of beers, this would make a much better night than a lot of other movies I can think of. If you're not this kind of person though, avoid Old Dogs at all costs. Steer clear of it. Pretend it's a mustachioed man in a trenchcoat following you and your kid at the grocery store. Go nowhere near it for fear of what is sure to happen to you if you do.

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