Movie Review – Old Dogs

Old Dogs (2009)
Written by David Diamond & David Weissman
Directed by Walt Becker

How does one end a year and a film series about forgotten terrible movies? Well, the best way, in my opinion, is by subjecting yourself to one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. Yes, this is the second time I’ve watched Old Dogs. Do you see what I do for you people? Old Dogs came out a decade ago, a film that marked the movie duo we’ve always wanted to see, John Travolta & Robin Williams…? This is a film with so many strange things happening on the screen, and I have some theories about what the picture was originally going to be. Let’s not waste a single moment more.

Charlie and Dan (John Travolta & Robin Williams) are best friends and run a sports marketing firm. Through an overly complicated and convoluted manner, Charlie ends up telling a group of Japanese businessmen a story about Dan. Seven years ago, Dan got divorced, and Charlie took him to Miami to blow off some steam. Dan ends up getting married Vicki (Kelly Preston), both of them are drunk like you probably should be if you watch this film. Dan and Vicki suddenly reconnect, and it turns out that one night stand led to twins! Here is where the film really goes off the rails and starts to provide a window into the writers’ room.

Vicki is going away to jail for two weeks because she broke into a chemical factory and burnt some blueprints for expansion because they were going to build near her home. Her hand model best friend (Rita Wilson) is going to watch the kids while she’s in the clink. However, Dan slams a trunk shut on the hand model’s moneymakers sending her to the hospital for multiple weeks (and out of the film apparently). This premise is just so convoluted and feels like the kind of idea you would brainstorm but then throw away for something with less moving parts.

The rest of the film is vignettes that involve Dan and Charlie taking the kids to various functions and events and things going wrong. They go to a scout camp, they hire puppeteer to wire up Dan so they can control him, the kids accidentally switch up the guys’ pills & hilarity ensues. That last one is a doozy and leads to one of the most nightmarish moments in the entire film. Charlie takes a tablet of Dan’s with euphoria and hunger as side effects. Charlie goes to a bereavement group with a Japanese translator (Full House & future federal prison inmate, Lori Loughlin) whom he has a crush on but ends up eating a pie that a deceased member of the group baked. Then the euphoria kicks in, and they use a digital post-production effect to morph Charlie’s face into a perpetual smile.

There are (no surprises) lots of groin shots, and fart sounds sprinkled through the movie. There is a scene where Dan takes his son to the men’s room and stands in the stall (wth?!). His son begins asking him about where babies come from, and there are fart sound effects. I swear they added this in during post because neither character in the scene reacts to the sounds. I imagine a studio executive watching the rough cut and giving notes for the fart sounds because the scene needs to be made funnier.

My theory and I have found out since that I was right, is that this movie was initially intended to be R-rated. The 107-minute cut was screened and didn’t get good feedback. The studio, Disney, re-cut the film to 88 minutes and resubmitted it to the MPAA receiving a PG-rating. The tone of the picture is so completely off, trying to be a schmaltzy 1990s family comedy but also a 2000s ironic Family Guy-esque raunchy comedy. This is truly a film so bizarrely terrible it’s actually worth a watch with a group of friends, being loud, and mocking it from start to end.

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