A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this Robin Williams/John Travolta family comedy from the director of Wild Hogs includes lots of sight gags and physical humor, as well as jokey references to relationships and the "birds and the bees," but it's generally family friendly. Although there's no overt sexuality aside from some flirting and a kiss between adult characters, older kids will surely understand that a central couple consummated their marriage, as short-lived as it was. The wedding night in question also includes a scene of the main characters drinking huge cocktails, and it's obvious that they're comically drunk. There's no serious violence, but characters frequently fall and/or are injured in comic ways.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In OLD DOGS, Charlie (John Travolta) and Dan (Robin Williams) are best friends/business partners on the verge of a multimillion dollar deal with a Japanese company. Then Dan receives a message from a memorable ex, Vicki (Kelly Preston), who tells him that, as the result of their impulsive (and annulled) one-night marriage, he's father of her 7-year-old twins, Emily (Ella Bleu Travolta) and Zach (Conner Rayburn). Because Vicki has to serve a two-week jail sentence for peaceful protesting, she needs someone to watch the twins. Dan enthusiastically agrees to care for his son and daughter and enlists Charlie's help to connect with the twins while simultaneously securing the lucrative Japanese contract.
Is it any good?
Although there are a few funny gags in Old Dogs, the old-guys-raising-kids premise is tired and predictable. Between the repetitive "grandpa" jokes and slapstick comedy, there's little that audiences haven't seen before (including a scene of Williams' barely clad body). Williams and Travolta are clearly at ease together, but the cast's familiarity with each other (Travolta's entire immediate family is in the film) doesn't make up for the movie's lazy writing and formulaic plot (is there ever really a doubt that Dan will land a new family and the deal of a lifetime?).
Probably the only really memorable part of Old Dogs is seeing the final on-screen performance of late, great comedian Bernie Mac, who plays a genius puppeteer in a small part. Other supporting players (most of whom have too little to do with their comedic talents) include Seth Green, Justin Long, Dax Shepard, and Luis Guzman. A much funnier plot could have centered around Green and Long as Williams' long-lost twins, instead of the movie's not particularly charming child actors....
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's message about the importance of family relationships. What do characters learn about choosing between family and business obligations?
Is Dan's reaction to the news that he's a father believable? How are older fathers portrayed in the movie? Are the grandpa and senior-citizen jokes funny or repetitive?
- In theaters: November 25, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: March 9, 2010
- Cast: John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Robin Williams
- Director: Walt Becker
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild rude humor
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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