|A Parental Review of "Old Dogs" for Concerned Parents:|
The mainstream reviews of Old Dogs, starring Robin Williams and John Travolta, have been extremely mixed. This is a movie that reviewers either really don’t like, or really do. Put us in the latter camp.
Yes, the movie is pretty formulaic, but let’s face it, when you are taking your kids to the movie, you want it to be somewhat predictable, so that you can know what you are getting into, and what to expect, before exposing your child to the movie.
There are thematic elements that some parents may want to avoid, particularly for younger children. Almost out of the box the concept of divorce is introduced – Robin Williams’ character was divorced, and then almost immediately remarried on the rebound during a wild, drunken weekend in Miami – that marriage was annulled 24 hours later.
This is the set-up for the main premise of the movie – Robin Williams, who with partner Travolta runs a very high-powered sports marketing firm and is in a high-pressure position, finds out, 7 years after the annulment, that his honeymoon night resulted in twins. And now mom, who has to serve two weeks at a minimum security facility for civil disobedience (protesting toxic dumping near where her children play), needs someone to watch the children.
Old Dogs is chock full of sight-gags and physical comedy. Surprisingly little of it is actually crude, but there is some crudity. Williams has to take his son (they are boy/girl twins) to the mens’ room for the first time, and you see the son (upper half only) seated in a stall with Williams there, and you hear the son passing gas (just once, thank goodness not the extended-play version that so often passes for comedy these days). In a scene where Williams is golfing with some potential clients, he ends up backstroking the golf ball into someone’s crotch – several times. And in a funny (in part because it’s mercifully short) scene, the son instant messages with the prospective client (who thinks it’s Williams or Travolta) and uses the word “poop”. And, oh yes, the very aged dog pees while walking.
Early into the movie there is a scout camping trip, during which there is skeet shooting, and Williams accidentally shoots the head off a statue. Also during the camping trip there is a veiled reference to someone thinking that Williams and Travolta are a gay couple, but frankly it will go over the heads of any child who isn’t already aware of or sensitive to the subject.
In truth, the worst part of the movie is that the beloved dog passes away. You can see it coming a mile away, which is good, because you can warn your child before the moment is upon them.
I really have to give the producer and director credit – the moments of crudity are fleeting (all too rare in PG movies these days) and because of that they are more funny (or less unfunny). And that makes Old Dogs acceptable and even enjoyable.
In fact, Old Dogs is a very sweet movie, that is, above all, about a father learning how to relate to children, connecting with his children, and realizing how much more rewarding being a parent is than being a tycoon.
We were surprised at how much we enjoyed it, and we recommend it for anyone for whom the above is acceptable.
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