Old Dogs has finally limped to UK screens after being delayed from June last year, with the central conceit that a gorilla will embrace Seth Green at some point, as shown in every trailer and on every poster.
Yeah, you’ve seen those posters on bus stops and at the cinema: John Travolta and Robin Williams standing side by side looking befuddled behind a terrified Seth Green, who’s being embraced by said gorilla.
The film arrives here at the same time as the DVD and Blu-ray release over in America, where audiences didn’t really take to the film despite having Seth Green being embraced by a gorilla. Apparently, the very sight of Seth Green being embraced by a gorilla wasn’t quite enough to draw in the punters, and I very much doubt it will be over here.
What’s this about, anyway? Well, I know that Seth Green is, at some point, embraced by a gorilla, or so I’m led to believe. Is it about that?
No, Old Dogs is about a pair of sports marketing entrepreneurs, Dan and Charlie, who are on the cusp of the biggest deal their company has ever had. However, a chance encounter with an old flame of Dan’s reveals that he once fathered two twins, Zach and Emily.
The mildly paedophobic bachelors find the kids to be a handful, taking them through camping trips and teaching them how to ride bikes, learning along the way that family actually extends beyond the companionship of an incontinent old dog (geddit?) called Lucky.
And what of Seth Green, being embraced by a gorilla? Um… well, it’s in there. I mean, it’s apropos of nothing, but then a hell of a lot of the film’s gags and plot developments are.
If Seth Green being embraced by a gorilla leaves you cold, there’s always a hilarious pills mix-up that leaves John Travolta with the same expression as Jack Nicholson’s Joker. No? How about Robin Williams being controlled like a human puppet? Seth Green being hit in the crotch with a golf ball, little realising that he will soon be embraced by a gorilla as well?
It’s possible to over-egg that angle, but I’ll be honest. There should be something funny about a petrified Seth Green being embraced by a huge gorilla. And there was. I chuckled when I first saw the trailer. Green is a funny guy, but having seen the full film, I have no idea why he puts his name to garbage like Old Dogs.
I’d say the same of Robin Williams, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Rita Wilson, Matt Dillon, Justin Long, Bernie Mac, Dax Shephard, Luis Guzman… hell, who else was in this film? Yeah, everyone in this film can do better.
Incidentally, the only other laugh in the film besides… you know what… comes from Justin Long, whose appearance is all too brief and actually quite funny. He’s a creepy and utterly deadpan scoutmaster who appears for all of about five minutes, and acquits himself pretty well, given the material.
But you know what? I’m baffled that this was released under the Disney banner. Sure, director Walt Becker gave the studio a big hit of moderate quality in 2007’s Wild Hogs, but is this what a namesake of his had in mind when he founded the studio way back when?
Did Walt Disney envision a film largely about corporate politics with some caricatured Japanese businessmen? A film in which a lead character gets an excessive spray tan and is mistaken for another ethnicity? A film with a gag about muddled prescription drugs? A film where Seth Green is embraced by a fucking gorilla?
Let me make it really simple. If you stepped in Old Dogs in the street, you would be very pissed off. You’d shout, swear and scream bloody murder. You’d stamp about and frantically scrape the sole of your shoe on the nearest kerb.
The worst film I’ve seen this year is still Valentine’s Day, a film that’s similarly afflicted with being awful shit, but Old Dogs comes damn close to the bottom of the pile. Damn close.
This is just a loathsome film, and it’s a tragedy that this was the late Bernie Mac’s final film, whatever my thoughts about his other works. No one should have Old Dogs as a footnote to their career, although few of its cast deserve any more work. Especially not John Travolta, whose sole passable work of the last decade is voicing the title character in Bolt.
It lurches from misfire to misfire without wit, charm or any recognisable entertainment value beyond an oversold gag that rhymes with Reth Reen reing rembraced ry a rorilla. You know, if you got a dog to tell you. As fun as rabies, though this may make you froth at the mouth more.