While it sounds like a sequel to "Wild Hogs" (same director), "Old Dogs" is actually it's own entity, a comedy starring Robin Williams and John Travolta as Dan and Charlie, two old guys who couldn't be more different, but have become best friends and run sports marketing agency. As the picture opens, the two are in the midst of trying to secure a deal with a Japanese firm, with the assistance of their new recruit, Ralph (Seth Green).
However, things take an unexpected turn when Dan runs into his old frame (and - quite briefly - wife), Vicki (Kelly Preston, Travolta's real-life wife, which seems as if it may have been kinda awkward), who is in the midst of a bit of a situation and finds that she needs someone to take care of her twins - Zach (Conner Rayburn) and Emily (Ella Bleu Travolta). It's more than a bit of a surprise when Dan finds out that the kids are his.
Suddenly finding himself in the midst of a situation he's not prepared for, Dan pulls bachelor Charlie - who's even less prepared - into the situation, much to his dismay. While the two have an awkward time early on trying to take care of the kids - Charlie asks the kids if they've ever been to a casino, or have seen the movie - but as Dan finds out more about the kids, he (not surprisingly) finds himself warming up to the idea of being a parent and having a relationship with Vicki.
However, misadventures ensue on the way to the happy ending, including a side trip to Japan (on a scene on the plane ride there, there is a bit of smoke coming from somewhere in the background of the plane - not sure why) and a camping trip. The film has some sweet moments and gets it together more in the second half, but there's still some concerns.
The picture does venture into slapstick territory at times, and relies on the familiar a bit too much for laughs: in a scene where Rita Wilson's character gets her hands caught in a slammed car trunk, the soundtrack plays "Big Girls Don't Cry". There's also the expected series of montages and slapstick moments (Dan falls into a pool and the moment is actually replayed more than once.)
Still, what works surprisingly well is the pairing of Travolta and Williams. The two actors couldn't be more different in terms of personality and mannerisms, but they actually make a surprisingly winning team - the two make for believable friends and have chemistry. I'd like to see the two paired up again. The film also gets a long line of actors to appear in supporting efforts - Preston, Green, Wilson, Dax Sheppard, Justin Long, Bernie Mac, Lori Laughlin (who could play Kelly Preston's sister) Luis Guzman, Amy Sedaris and Matt Dillon - but the movie doesn't use the supporting players to their full potential. Green's character is the biggest example - he gets a few solid laughs, but the character only gets a total of a few minutes of screen time.
"Old Dogs" has some nice moments, some chuckles and a solid cast, but the humor relies too much on familiar, sitcom-y gags. It's a watchable film for a cold afternoon, but a few solid rewrites and a different approach could have brought the film up to a higher level.
VIDEO: "Old Dogs" is presented in 1.85:1 (1080p/AVC) by Disney. The film's transfer is not without a few bumps, but generally looks pretty nice. Sharpness and detail are positive, as the picture looked consistently clean and detailed, with small object details reasonably well presented.
However, a few issues do appear, starting with some mild edge enhancement visible in some scenes. Additionally, a few traces of noise were also seen. Colors looked bright and well-saturated, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The film is presented in DTS-HD 5.1. The film's sound design is simple and straightforward, with limited surround use (understandable, given the material.) Audio quality was satisfactory, with clear, crisp dialogue and score ("Big Girls Don't Cry" has never sounded cleaner or more detailed.)
EXTRAS: Director Walt Becker, producer Andrew Panay and writers David Diamond and David Weissman provide an audio commentary for the film. While the four do provide some interesting tidbits about filming on-location, effects and other production concerns, the group spends too much time praising everyone involved.
Also included are deleted scenes, "Young Dogs Learn Old Tricks" featurette, two music videos (one from Bryan Adams, the other from John and Ella Travolta) and bloopers. A digital copy is offered on the third disc.
Final Thoughts: Travolta and Williams make a surprisingly good pair together and the movie has a few nice moments (moreso in the second half), but "Old Dogs" could have used a snappier script (and less reliance on old tricks to get laughs), as well as made better use of the supporting cast (especially Green.) Fans of the stars should consider a cold weekend afternoon rental first.
The Film B-