Sunday, December 27, 2009

Old Dogs

Good Old Chums

Being a Disney film, one would not expect anything raunchy to contribute to the laughs here, having just one particular moment about having two dads who are close would have suggested something of an unconventional family nucleus, but this was quietly and quickly broached. Other than that, this film happened to be funny man Bernic Mac's swan song, and one which came in the aftermath of personal tragedy to the Travoltas, with John a starring roles opposite Robin Williams, and wife Kelly Preston being in a supporting role playing the latter's object of affection.

I would like to give this film some brownie points, but this is quite typical of the many parents-children films out there, with the former group put into situations to please the latter, and therein ripe for many comedic moments. John Travolta and Robin Williams play Charlie and Dan respectively, two best friends for over 30 years who co-own a lucrative boutique sports marketing film which is on the cusp of one of their biggest deals ever with the Japanese. However, a fling from the past (Kelly Preston) re-enters Dan's life, and came with a pair of 7 year old twins in tow (one of whom is played by the real life daughter of John Travolta and Kelly Preston). Needing to serve time for 2 weeks, Dan agrees to become the guardian of his own kids whom he has never met, and since Charlie has to get into the act, his character is someone who would stand by his friend and to help out where necessary.

So begins these two old dogs' adventure into parenthood, other than looking after dogs, hitting on women and running their business. You can name films like Dwayne Johnson's The Game Plan and Vin Diesel's The Pacifier as films belonging to the same genre, with this one having plot development that you can predict with your eyes closed as it follows a set formula of reaching out, and gaining the respect, trust and love of the kids. Themes like the importance of family and friendship rear their usual heads here, though being a Disney film such themes are like a given.

The title too has some significance for old fogeys like myself that time and tide wait for no man, and if one doesn't focus on the important things in life, life will just pass you by. The funniest moment in the entire film involved the mix up of pills in an extended scene involving a big fat appetite, facial twitches and contortions and the lack of psycho-motor skills on a golf course no thanks to an exaggerated visual haywire depth of field. Other than that the film never lets up on any moment where it could sneak in a Grandparent related, geriatric joke to highlight the disparity of ages between the two friends, and the kids.

There were some noticeable errors in the film though, stemming mostly from calling of the actors' real names, with more than one instance where I caught a “Bernie” (Mac) or a “John” (Travolta). But minor nitpicking aside, cameos by Bernie Mac, Matt Dillon, Justin Long and that animatronic gorilla provide additional characters to laugh with and laugh at. Only that such laughs come in limited quantities, with a visibly muted Robin Williams unable to go the whole nine yards since we know what he's capable of as a humourous live-wire. It's Disney family friendly fare after all.

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