Travolta Fails to Save "Old Dogs" from Critics

Only in one case the audience is recommended to watch the new Walt Disney Pictures release, "Old Dogs", - if they don't mind wasting time and like offensive humour.

Old Dogs is a 2009 American comedy film directed by Wild Hogs's Walt Becker and starring John Travolta and Robin Williams with supporting roles played by Kelly Preston, Matt Dillon, Justin Long, Seth Green, Rita Wilson, Dax Shepard and Bernie Mac. It is set to be released on November 25, 2009.

Old Dogs received poor reception from film critics. The Orlando Sentinel called the film "badly written and broadly acted". The Chicago Daily Herald said the film "should be put out of our misery". The San Jose Mercury News and The Boston Globe both described the film as a "turkey". Reviews in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and AV Club said the movie was not recommended for adults or children.

Charlie (John Travolta) and Dan (Robin Williams) are best friends and co-workers who have no clue about the importance of family or what life is truly about. Dan's ex-wife, Vicki (Kelly Preston), shows up after a long period of time and reveals that she and Dan have seven-year-old twins: a son and a daughter. Dan recruits Charlie and together they take care of the twins and a dog. With help from a co-worker friend named Ralph (Seth Green), they go from outdoor activities with the kids and a rough instructor (Matt Dillon), to enduring mix-ups of medicine and even a flamboyant children's entertainer (Bernie Mac), and eventually they will learn the true meaning of life and family.

In case anyone in the audience isn't sure when to cackle, coo, snicker or sigh, the makers of "Old Dogs" have provided a handy on-screen prompt.

It's an old dog, shown in closeup, reacting with little grunts of canine confusion or curiosity over the antics of Robin Williams and John Travolta in this dead stray of a family comedy.

Director Walt Becker cuts away to the pooch, the aging pet of Travolta's character, again and again. So often, in fact, that maybe Sebastian, the 9-year-old dog playing the creaky old pet, should have shared top billing with Travolta and Williams in this rubbish about middle-aged buddies caring for young twins one of them never knew he fathered.

At some point, you half expect to hear the dog's thoughts, like the yammering pets in "Look Who's Talking Now," the last in Travolta's talking-baby series (a movie franchise that seems like Preston Sturges compared to this).

Whatever the old dog might want to say, it's bound to have been more interesting than anything uttered by the two-legged creatures in "Old Dogs."

Travolta and Williams truly put some energy into their characters, but there's nothing there for them to play. "Old Dogs" is so empty-headed, all they can do is put on goofy, sometimes creepy, faces and try to make observations about their aging bodies sound amusing.

"Old Dogs"  is rated PG for some mild rude humor. Running time: 89 minutes. One and a half stars out of four.

Motion Picture Association of America rating definitions:

G — General audiences. All ages admitted.

PG — Parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

PG-13 — Special parental guidance strongly suggested for children under 13. Some material may be inappropriate for young children.

R — Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

NC-17 — No one under 17 admitted.

The Associated Press has contributed to the report.

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