I’ve found myself struggling to write this review for Disney’s Old Dogs for the past week. I watched the movie, watched the special features, and still have been at a loss as to how to approach a review of a film that has a 06% at RottenTomatoes.com. But, since I have a deadline, I’ll do my best.
Is it funny? No. Is there an endearing message? No. Will kids like it? No. Will adults? No. Live-action Disney films are usually hit or miss. Not all of them can be Pirates of the Caribbean or Alice in Wonderland. Some have to be Mr. Magoo, Meet the Deedles, or Old Dogs. At issue here is taking some very talented and funny people and handing them an unfunny script that doesn’t allow for any leeway as to what they can say or do.
Williams seems stifled and at times looks as if he wants to explode. He appears tense and not at all relaxed, which would be fine if we were just describing his character. Unfortunately, it comes across as Williams himself being uncomfortable.
Same goes with Travolta, whose turn in Hairspray as Edna Turnblad proves that he can expertly execute a comedic role even in a dress. In Old Dogs, there’s a sense of boredom with the material. It felt as if he and Williams were just going through the motions and weren’t truly invested in the project.
There are plenty of “jokes” in the film. I put “jokes” in quotes because someone must have felt they were funny while they were being written and were sent in for approval from dozens of Disney execs. The timing on most of the “jokes” is so bad that what could have been funny just comes across as painful to watch.
Old Dogs was also nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Picture of 2009, but was beat by Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. While I do love bad movies, Old Dogs is in that zone where I’m not sure if I could sit through it again as a guilty pleasure. I just feel too sorry for the cast when I watch it.
Finally, is it possible the film didn’t work due to the watered-down PG rating? Would it have been funnier if it were rated PG-13 and Williams was allowed to deliver more edge to the film?
The Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy combo pack includes several special features. The Blu-ray disc includes:
Young Dogs Learn Old Tricks
Music Video – “You’ve Been a Friend to Me” Performed by Bryan Adams
Music Video – “Every Little Step” Performed by John Travolta and Ella Bleu Travolta
If you loved this movie, I appeal to you to tell my why you felt it was good. Disney has produced far better live-action movies recently, and I really wonder how this film got made at this point in time. This is truly Disney’s answer to All About Steve.