Movie commercials offer us a great service; they not only show us which upcoming movies look good, but also which upcoming movies look like Hitler Turds (turds that waste no energy being anywhere except directly beneath your nose). In honor of this profound art, which I partake in from time to time, I give you TRAILER TRACKS, a weekly examination of upcoming movie commercials: what they say, what they don’t say, and what they say accidentally about the product being sold to you, the excited chump.
This weeks entry:
(Disney Pictures; Dir. Walt Becker)
Old Dogs is something of a spiritual sequel to the runaway hit, Wild Hogs, which, if I remember correctly, was about a bunch of pigs who learn to ride motorcycles. Both films feature John Travolta, but instead of giving him three sidekicks, Old Dogs realizes that William Macy, Tim Allen, and Martin Lawrence smooshed together like a comedy-loaf is actually less funny than one aged Robin WIlliams, and it certainly costs less. As a result, this is more of a buddy film and less of a well-rounded examination of early 21st Century masculine identity issues (hence, the severe lack of Ray Liotta). Also, the film is directed by Walt Becker, one of California’s few living geniuses.
The Set Up:
Right off the bat, we learn that Robin Williams and John Travolta are gay lovers who own a business which is on the verge of going global. Their adopted son, played by Seth Green, looks to be involved in the family business, but only in a rookie capacity. He also appears to be this film’s smiley punching bag, à la Eugene Levy. Between Williams and Travolta, one is responsible and frowny and hates children, the other is irresponsible and smiley and loves to compliment hard-working, down on their luck, salt of the Earth waitresses.
John Travolta’s real life wife shows up to tell Robin Williams that she had some of his kids back when he was trying to appear straight. The confusing meta message here is that TravoltaPrime doesn’t care if other fat men sleep with his wife, I think. Anyway, the kid thing is a surprise for Robin Williams, and he promptly faints as one should in a mediocre comedy. It’s not in the trailer, but I’m sensing that after he faints, he farts a lot, kind of like his wife did in Good Will Hunting. Should be hilarious.
Immediately, two kids show up at his house and want not only love and affection, but a weekend camping trip, too. At first Travolta and Williams are like “No Way!” but when they get wind that their prospective Japanese investors will be there, they’re all like “C’mon New Son and Girl-Son!” On a side note, the credits say the Girl-Son is Travolta’s real life Girl-Son. I find this simply too batshit insane to accept.
It looks like Camp is really gonna kick their asses in the form of Matt Dillon and Justin Long, who insult Robin Williams by calling him a Gilmore Girl and an Old Woman, respectively. Call me crazy, but if your He-Man Camp Councilor can reference The Gilmore Girls, he’s either a secret pussy or dating Lauren Graham. Their main trial at Camp is some kind of mixture of Frisbee and Rugby which they fail at because it’s just so darn hard to teach Old Dogs new tricks! Arf!
Meanwhile, Seth Green is feeling really threatened by these new kids because they got Bio-cred, and he’s just an adopted smiley punching bag. Whenever people walk off-frame, he’s last to go, always looking at the feet like adopted kids do sometimes.
The Trailer jumps from Camp to the Zoo with a brief gag in between involving racism and Robin Williams’ lack of depth perception. This gag looks EXACTLY as funny as Sinbad’s novocaine mishap in 1995’s Houseguest. Remember THAT shit? I know you don’t remember jack! (© The Wu)
Anyway, from Camp to Zoo, we have a pretty large blank to fill plot-wise. Here’s my take. One night at camp, the Old Dogs get bit by werewolves and become Real Old Dogs. The first thing they do is find Matt Dillon’s tent and bite his balls.
The next morning, they wake up in the middle of Camp naked and confused. The children see what Daddies have done, and the run away. Japanese businessmen show up and say, “We are ready to deal! It is now or never!” Travolta and Williams choose the kids over their all-important Japanese business deal.
They kids run to the Zoo, but the Zoo is closed, so the Old Dogs have to break in. From this point on, it’s kind of like Home Alone, except with animals. The Old Dogs get their asses kicked by increasingly smaller, cuter creatures, while Seth Green is raped by a gorilla.
But then night falls, and the full moon comes out. The Old Dogs transform into Real Old Dogs and fight there way through the Zoo by kicking animals in the nuts. The kids climb on their furry backs, and they ride together to freedom! Seth Green decides to stay. “Don’t worry, you Old Dogs,” he says. “I’ve been accepted here. Live your life. Raise those kids right!”
Just then the Japanese businessmen show up to tell the Old Dogs that they respect their dedication to family and they’d be happy to go into business! They all cheer and have a party. Robin Williams tries to shake one of their hands, but misses because his depth perception is still all fucked up! That’s it.
This is a fairly odd movie commercial because the kids are obviously the plot catalyst, yet they’re barely present here. Instead we’re sold a movie that’s 90 minutes of fat old guys falling down. It’s always a bad sign when trailers edit together complete sequences, and this one pulls that shit twice. On the other hand, we do get a kid floored in the face by a soccer ball and Matt Dillon being funny, so it’s not a complete loss. Plus, it doesn’t come out until November so they have time to put a CG beard on Robin Williams and make it a drama if it doesn’t test well.
In the end, I can only recommend this film to women who hate their husbands, kids who hate their fathers, and Todd Palin.
Behind every great book adaptation is a forgettable first try. — By Ryan Covey