Old Dogs

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Old Dogs Movie Poster Image
Clueless-dad comedy is forgettable family fluff.
  • PG
  • 2009
  • 88 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 20 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 30 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational value
Positive messages

The importance of family is demonstrated by Dan, who chooses a chance to be with his new family over a lucrative business deal. Dan and Charlie's lifelong relationship is also a good example of a loyal, unconditional friendship. But Vicki's decision to keep the twins a secret for seven years sends an iffier message.

Positive role models & representations

Dan and Charlie are good examples of unconditional friends, and Dan learns what it means to unleash his imagination and be a playful father to his kids. That said, the main characters also get drunk and sometimes behave immaturely.

Violence & scariness

Comic, slapstick-style violence: Dan falls while getting a spray tan; a particularly violent game of Ultimate Frisbee leaves the protagonists bruised and battered; a character ends up with a bloody face; Dan and Charlie crack each other's joints while warming up for a game. A character is kept trapped in a gorilla's embrace.

Sexy stuff

Charlie flirts with many women. Dan flirts with and kisses Vicki. Older kids will understand that Dan and Vicki slept together the night that they impulsively got married, which resulted in the twins. Jokey references to "the birds and the bees." One scene shows a lot of Dan's body (but no sensitive parts).


Relatively mild language: "idiot" and a few scatalogical words like "poop," "farting," and "scat."


Brands featured include Volvo, Apple, and Friday the 13th.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Charlie and Dan get drunk in Miami, drinking huge cocktails and flirting with equally inebriated women. Dan ends up marrying a woman he meets that very night. The two also take many prescription pills that have odd side effects, like lack of depth perception, ravenous hunger, and a Joker-like smile.

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. 

User Reviews

Adult Written byCautious Mum November 24, 2012

Definitely recommend as a family laugh

I thought it was a great family movie without any smut and we had a good old fashioned laugh. No cheeky and rude kids and a bit of humour for parents. Our kids... Continue reading
Parent of a 6, 10, and 16 year old Written byGina D May 19, 2017


A very bad movie, and my 5 yr old even quipped "cliche, mummy"
Kid, 9 years old September 5, 2011


stupid movie and a lot of sex
Kid, 11 years old January 23, 2011
The begginning was a little innapropriate, you can definitly tell they slept together and that is how the kids appeared.The rest of the movie was extremly funny... Continue reading

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?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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