OLD DOGS movie review

by Rick Grant
This funny film, starring John Travolta and Robin Williams, again establishes Disney as the master producer of high quality family films. Skillfully directed by Walt Becker, the premise involves Robin Williams as Dan and his business partner and best friend, Charlie (John Travolta) as carefree bachelors. Dan is twice divorced and Charlie has never married.
The fifty-something pair run a sports marketing firm that has cornered the market on boutique firms that specialize in personal client attention. However, Charlie has been working on a big $47 million deal with a Japanese firm that will put the pair into the big league..
But just as they are about to close the deal, Dan’s ex-wife Vicki (Kelly Preston) surfaces and reveals that Dan has fraternal twins from their last encounter. The kids are now 8 years old. The thing is, she was arrested in a protest and has to go to jail to serve a two week sentence.
As soon as the shock wears off, Dan seem delighted to have kids. So he volunteers to keep the kids while she’s in the slammer. Charlie reminds Dan that they are in the middle of closing the deal of a lifetime and Dan will be very busy in the next two weeks. However, Dan assures Charlie that they can work out the schedule to both take care of the kids and business by multi-tasking. Not surprisingly, that doesn’t work out.
Of course, Dan has no idea how to handle these precocious kids. This leads to an endless string of comedic situations as Dan and Charlie try to impress the Japanese firm they are competent partners, while watching over the kids. The kids sense that their dad and uncle are easy marks and take advantage of them any chance they get.
Robin Williams uses his big bag of comedic tricks to keep the laughs coming. Travolta acts as straight man and comes off as a ladies man, always flirting with any woman he sees. Trouble follows the pair like the plague.
What’s worse, their hired front man, Craig (Seth Green) goes missing in Tokyo and turns into a Karaoke junkie. He almost queers the deal. Dan and Charlie work hard to salvage the deal as Dan gets bogged down in domestic neurosis.
The comic interchange between Williams and Travolta works on all levels, even when Williams is doing prat falls and slapstick. Of course, kids love physical humor but the script allows for more sophisticated adult comedy. For Disney, it’s a proven formula.
Although I knew that this was a formulaic Disney script, I laughed a lot and felt uplifted by the film thanks to the A-list cast. There is a place in the holiday schedule for this type of comedy without any gushing sentimentality.
This is the perfect holiday movie with no mention of the usual seasonal cliches. Lately, many of the films I review are poorly recorded and I have to strain to hear the dialogue, but I could hear every word in this movie. Again, Disney’s high production standards create a better than average product.