Wed November 18, 2009
Look what it didn't do---
By John DeSando, WCBE's "It's Movie Time," "Cinema Classics," and "On the Marquee"
Dan: If I'm gonna be an old dad, you're gonna be Uncle Charlie. We can do this.
I'm "gonna" be Uncle Johnny and measure Old Dogs against other non-animation family films and say it is not Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, but it is fun without being condescending. In fact, I will measure it against what it didn't do.
This slapstick comedy is about middle-aged Dan (Robin Williams) finding out he has 2 children, now twin 7 year olds, and friend/marketing partner Charlie (John Travolta) joining him for two weeks taking care of the kids. What the film doesn't do is let Robin Williams get too sentimental as he has done in the past?think Patch Adams; it doesn't let the kids take over the film and insult the adults; it doesn't let the obvious bonding motif get out of hand with absurd sharing and caring.
Of course, the humorous parts are inevitably the slapstick of these two veteran actors from the old pie in the face to the misguided golf balls into the groin. Throw in some standard Asian stereotyping as well.
Oddly enough, most of this old fashioned laugh generation works because the two actors know how far in enough.
The family can go to this film for the laughs, not sophisticated, and the joy-of-family message, not new to kids' films. Where the Wild Things Are this is not, not in visual ingenuity and disturbing ideas about being imperfect humans.
Charlie (reading one of Dan's many prescription bottles): "Watch out for sudden loss of depth perception?" Really, no depth to worry about in Old Dogs; it's just old tricks.
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE 90.5's It's Movie Time, Cinema Classics, and On the Marquee, which can be heard streaming at http://publicbroadcasting.net/wcbe/ppr/index.shtml and on demand at http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wcbe/arts.artsmain
Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com