Old Dogs
PG
Entertainment: +2
Acceptability: +2

John Travolta, Robin Williams, Kelly Preston, Lori Loughlin. Family comedy. Written by David Diamond, David Weissmann. Directed by Walt Becker.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Two best friends, savvy in business, but not parenthood, have their lives turned upside down when they must suddenly take charge of two 7-year-olds. The Williams character has been unlucky in love. Suddenly divorced, his buddy takes him to Las Vegas to get his mind off the ordeal. There he gets drunk and marries a woman he just met. He discovers seven years later that he became a father that night, despite an annulment the following day. Now the woman shows up (he still has feelings for her), and she asks him to baby-sit for two weeks while she is incarcerated for political activism.

Wouldn’t you just know, our heroes accept the charge of the two youngsters during the very week when they need to concentrate on a $40-million deal. On top of that, neither of these bachelors is suited to fatherhood. Well, not yet.

PREVIEW REVIEW: If I were to give you a lengthy description of the premise and chronicle the sight gags, you couldn’t help but roll your eyes and continue to repeat the word, lame. My worries began when I noticed the never-ceasing manipulative background music. This kind of jauntily skipping over the scales style of musical scoring is desperately used by filmmakers when they suddenly realize in the editing room that they need help making their comedy funny.

Then we get the two delightful kids who are supposed to tug at your heartstrings. Alas, these two wafts are probably more delightful in their parents eyes than anyone else’s. The filmmakers, and the kids’ parents are hoping audiences will go all gooey every time they stare plaintively at their blockheaded father. Like most “family” films, kids are used to give depth to the proceedings despite the fact that not much going on could be equated with reality.

And what is the film’s premise? Dads put too much emphasis on their work. That’s lame because it’s hackneyed, having been done to death. What’s more, I’m not sure how sound that premise is. Are we to expect any father must skip a $40-million deal in order to celebrate a birthday at the zoo? Couldn’t they celebrate the birthday a day later, allowing Dad to close the deal? I guess I wouldn’t be such a good father. You see, I’d take the meeting, then buy the kids their own zoo!

By now you have come to the conclusion that I did not like this film. I have a surprise. I laughed – a lot. Travolta and Williams rise above this lame, hackneyed, done-to-death material and bring comic dimension to the story. Some sitcom routines don’t quite work, but there are enough funny moments that erase, for a while at least, the memory of the saccharine music and the sugar-and-spice kiddies.

A few times in the story, the two men are mistaken as gay. These misunderstandings are played for laughs, but I thought these moments were inappropriate for the otherwise kid-friendly film. It’s the type of movie that replaces the term, “Oh my God,” with “Oh my gosh,” so why include such sexually suggestive material?

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Walt Disney Distribution

Summary
Crude Language: A couple of muted sexual innuendos; some kid-pleasing humor that includes flatulence jokes and hits to the groin.
Obscene Language: I caught none
Profanity: None
Violence: Some slapstick, including a man hit in the groin with a golf ball.
Sexual Intercourse: Though there are no sexual situations, it is implied that while drunk in Las Vegas, a man slept with a woman he just met; from that irresponsible moment, he became a parent.
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: Because the two men are such close friends, some people think they are gay; there are a few gay jokes, which seemed inappropriate for the otherwise kid-friendly film.
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: A few suggestive sexual comments that may or may not go over the heads of little ones.
Drug Abuse: The two men get drunk in Vegas; later they take pills for their ailments, but the drugs get switched and they have negative affects on the two leads – this is played for laughs.
Other: None
Running Time: 90 minutes
Intended Audience: Family

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