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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Old Dogs

After a week's hiatus, I'm happy to bring back the "Saturday Night at the Movies" feature in this blog! 

As you may recall, last week at around this time, I was busy walking around a mud soaked track raising awareness and money for the 2014 Relay for Life event that was held in my town.  In case you didn't get a chance to see some of the highlights of the event, you can click on the entry dated June 14, 2014 to read all about it from the bead laps, to the survivor walk, to the rain that kept us huddled inside our tents for a good portion of an hour.  Despite the unpredictable weather, everything turned out very well, and we all had a blast.

And here's something else that I neglected to post in that entry that I didn't realize until recently.  This was the ninth year that my community has hosted an event like this.  Next year will be the tenth anniversary of the Relay event, and I'm planning on being there next year.  Of course, I'm not sure exactly what my life will be like one year from now, but no matter what the circumstances are, I'm game for another year of the Relay.  Hey, maybe I'll break my personal best of 36 laps around the track next year.

(Well, provided that my orthopedic insoles hold up.  And yes, at 33, I'm not ashamed to admit that I wear orthopedic insoles.  Whatever gets you through a twelve hour walkabout, right?)

Anyway, enough about orthopedic insoles.  We have a movie that we have to discuss.

I'm going to get right to the point about a couple of things before I go into today's movie discussion.  The first thing is that I had initially timed this entry to be posted on Father's Day weekend, which was last weekend, as this movie deals with the subject of fatherhood and raising children.  Of course, this plan fell through when the Relay for Life coincided with Father's Day weekend, and I decided that I would use that Saturday to talk about the Relay. 

(Well, after I recovered from the event, that is.)

And, the second thing that you should probably know about this movie is that it is considered by many to be one of the worst movies made in the 2000s.  It holds an approval rating of just five per cent on Rotten Tomatoes, and some of the comments made by critics about the film include "badly written and broadly acted", "the film should be put out of our misery", and that the movie was not recommended for adults OR children.

Which wouldn't be so bad except for the fact that the film was marketed as a family comedy by Disney.  Ouch.

Despite the negativity surrounding the film, it did do well at the box office.  It did make three times the amount of money that was spent on the film, so it wasn't a complete bomb.  But given how much of a negative reception that this film got, I was quite curious to know just why it was so bad.  So, I decided to buy a copy of the movie (don't cry foul people, I only paid $3.94 for it, which is way less than a subscription to Netflix), and check it out for myself.

I will say this.  It's not as bad as I thought it was going to be.  But it will NEVER be considered a Disney classic.  In fact, I can see why a lot of people didn't like it.  It had some rather unbelievable plot points, had some hammy overacting...and it also had Robin Williams in a Speedo.  And, take it from me...NOBODY wanted to see that.

Of course, Robin Williams isn't the only actor to star in the 2009 Disney film "Old Dogs".  The film also starred John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Ella Bleu Travolta (a real family affair this film was), Lori Loughlin, Seth Green, and Bernie Mac (in what would be his final film appearance as he died in August 2008 just after filming his parts for the movie).

As far as the subject of the film goes, the main gist of it is fatherhood at fifty.  It's a concept that is beginning to be more widely accepted as more and more men are becoming first time fathers after they hit the age of 40 (and sometimes even 50).  As someone who is childless at the age of 33, it suddenly doesn't make me feel so bad.

Speaking of which, John Travolta certainly has experience with being a father in his fifties.  After all, he and his wife Kelly had their third child in November 2010 - when John was 56 years old. 

And had the film just told the story of how a man who is in his fifties suddenly discovers that he has children, it probably would have been a wonderful and rewarding film that a lot of people could relate to.

Unfortunately, the Disney of the 2000s seemed to completely botch that plot up, and instead the whole movie becomes a huge mishmash of several different plots in one movie.  There were literally times in which I thought I was watching episodes of that Disney show "Sonny With A Chance", which featured actors in a sketch comedy show called "So Random".  Only Demi Lovato was nowhere to be found...and the main actors of the film were once highly respected A-list celebrities.

Anyway, back to the plot...or something that resembled a plot.

Williams and Travolta play best friends and sports company co-owners Dan Rayburn and Charlie Reed.  They are well on their way to making it big in the world of business, with the company well on their way to ironing out a deal with a Japanese corporation that will net both Dan and Charlie immediate recognition and fortune - if the deal goes through.

But Dan and Charlie are confident in their sales pitches and are guaranteed to make the deal happen no matter what.  What could possibly go wrong?

Well, let's just say that the past has a way of coming back and slapping you across the face.  In Dan's case, a rendezvous seven years ago while he was on vacation with Charlie lead to a really embarrassing tattoo across his chest, and two children that he didn't even know he had!

You can just imagine the shock that Dan must have felt when his wife of all but a few days, Vicki (Preston) shows up with Dan's children, twins Zack and Emily (Conner Rayburn and Ella Bleu Travolta). 

Here's where the plot gets even more farfetched.  Vicki is an environmental activist whose pursuit towards a greener planet has gotten her into a lot of trouble with the law.  She's about to spend the next few months in prison, and she wants Dan to take care of the children while she serves her time. 

Okay, wait...WHAT?  You had a drunken night of debauchery with a man and impulsively get married to a man while under the influence.  That marriage lasts approximately the same amount of time that Dennis Rodman and Carmen Electra stayed married for, and then you have his twins, then wait for seven years before telling him, only doing so because you end up getting arrested for committing crimes in the name of the environment.

And, yet, SHE'S the moral compass of the whole film?  No wonder this film got panned!

Anyway, I'm sure you know how the rest of the film progresses.  Since Dan has no idea how to handle being an instant father, he asks Charlie for help.  There's also some cameos by Charlie's crush Amanda (Loughlin), Craig (Green), a junior executive with Dan and Charlie's company, and Jimmy Lunchbox (Bernie Mac), a children's entertainer.  And, throughout the course of the movie, you learn why it's not a good idea to get a spray tan, why it's not a good idea to mix up prescriptions, and why you should never go swimming in a zoo exhibit for creatures of the Arctic.

Please tell me I didn't just waste eighty-eight minutes of my life...

Okay, let's just go ahead with the trivia portion of the blog.  Maybe there's something there that I can find.

1 - In addition to this film being dedicated to the memory of Bernie Mac, there's also a dedication to Jett Travolta.  John and Kelly's eldest son died at the age of 16 in January 2009 following a seizure.

2 - Watch for uncredited cameos by Dax Shepard and Justin Long in this movie.

3 - Also watch for Matt Dillon to make an appearance in the film as a camp counselor.

4 - Because of the deaths of both Bernie Mac and Jett Travolta, and because of the fact that Robin Williams had to undergo emergency surgery, this film's release date was pushed back three times.  It was originally supposed to be released the autumn of 2008, but didn't come out until November 25, 2009 - a full year after filming was completed!

5 - Although the film depicts some of the cast in the city of Tokyo, Japan, there were actually no scenes filmed in Tokyo.  The majority of the movie was shot in Connecticut and New York City.

6 - John Travolta accidentally calls Jimmy Lunchbox, Jimmy Mac.  The blooper remained in the film...and now I have this song stuck in my head!

7 - Although the zoo is seemingly located in the city of Burlington, Vermont, this is an impossibility, as that city doesn't even have a zoo!

8 - Although Conner Rayburn and Ella Bleu Travolta are supposed to play twins in the movie, there's actually a full year difference between the two actors.  Rayburn was born in April 1999, and Travolta was born in April 2000.

And, well...that's it for "Old Dogs".  Certainly not the worst film I've seen (that honour will always go towards "Freddy Got Fingered"), it is far from being the best.

All I can say is that I'm glad I only lost four bucks out of the deal.

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