Throughout our lives we hope to find that one person. Not the one we want to spend our lives with, so to speak, but that one friend who knows us best. What your thoughts are, what you are going to do, how to set you up to succeed, or back you up when all hell breaks loose. Or do you? This is the story of “Old Dogs” with John Travolta (Bolt, Hairspray) and Robin Williams (Night at the Museum, Man of the Year) under the direction of Walt Becker (Wild Hogs, Van Wilder) and we are just about to find out one such friendship in this family comedy.
Along with these two powerhouse names in Travolta and Williams are two very lovable actors in Conner Rayburn (Invention of Lying, According to Jim) and introducing Travolta’s daughter Ella Bleu Travolta. Rounding out the cast in this romp about those whom we should trust is Seth Green (Family Guy, Robot Chicken) as the exec, who’s obsessed with Japanese culture, Kelly Preston (Sky High, Cat in the Hat) as the fling who shows up with a surprise, Lori Loughlin (90210, Full House) as the interpreter, and a throng of cameos including Ann-Margaret, Matt Dillon, Rita Wilson and the late Bernie Mac. Creating the mayhem of life director Becker had the written talents of David Diamond and David Weissman (Minutemen, Evolution).
This is about two men, Charlie and Dan (Travolta, Williams) who are owners of a sports marketing firm. Two friends who have been together since high school, gone to college, started a business together and are working on their biggest venture to date. All the while Charlie is the impulsive one who is all adventure, chasing young women, party guy and Dan is the down to earth, by the numbers, failed marriage and not too good with children guy. This friendship is tested when 8 years after Dan’s divorce, a weekend fling, Vicki (Preston) shows up with a surprise. He’s a dad and to add to that, twins, Zach and Emily (Rayburn, Ella Bleu). At this point we find out that Vicki has to go to jail for her political mischief and after Dan injures the, would be, sitter Aunt Jenna (Wilson). Dan steps up to get to know his kids and watch them during Vicki’s incarceration, not taking into account he is working on a multi-million dollar deal with a Japanese corporation. This is where the fun ensues when you take two kids who are at an age where everything is about fun and put them with two guys who are not “kid” friendly.
The story is a good, humorous look at two men who are polar opposites when it comes to their personal lives but in business work really well together. Travolta playing the philanderer comes of like a cross of his previous characters Danny Zuko from Grease and Woody Stevens from Wild Hogs. Williams is fun to watch purely for the fact he plays the ‘straight’ man in this comedy, almost like a fish out of water at times. The true stars of this film are Rayburn and Ella Bleu. It is true that it’s tough to do any productions with kids because they can steal a show. These two work very well with one another and it shows on the screen. Like two veteran actors doing there umpteenth film. Rayburn truly is a little veteran having done several years on TV and now making the push to the big screen. Ella Bleu is wonderful to watch as she grows into the character as the film progresses. It will be a treat to see these two grow professionally. I wish them the best. The supporting cast of this film does well to play there parts and keep the film moving as we see these four come together as a family. And a family affair it was with Preston playing Vicki.
Added to this Blu-ray combo are the DVD and Digital Copy and features that show some fun and excitement of working with such a dynamic cast. An enjoyable look at Travolta and Williams is thru an interview by their young co-stars, Rayburn with Williams and Ella Bleu with her dad. My favorite part of the interview is Rayburn asking Williams to pay for his college tuition and Williams agreeing as long as Rayburn will employ him. Of course no Williams’s comedy can be complete without bloopers. This segment truly shows that when you’re on set with the likes of Travolta and then throw in Williams there is bound to be numerous takes because you never know what’s going to happen. There are also three deleted scenes that were good choices to cut even though the “Body Check” scene is admirable in context. Two music videos are also include, one with Bryan Adams playing every part of the band for the title song “You’ve Been a Friend to Me” and the fun redo of the Bobby Brown song “Every Little Step” by Ella Bleu and Travolta. This video is a fun video that all parents would love to do with their children. Don’t forget it shows what the one thing most of my generation know, Travolta can still sing.
(Click to Watch the Trailer!)
When I look back at the overall aspect of the film it shows the true bond of a friendship. Yes it has some extreme circumstances of schadenfreude* but when you look past that you see there will always be tough times. When you have that one friend, that confidant, it doesn’t matter what happens because they will always be there for you. You’ll have your fights and times where you’re “done” but they’ll be miniscule compared to nights of exploits or memories of first class bonding. “Old Dogs” is an entertaining family comedy of camaraderie.
*This is for those “Avenue Q” fans out there who will appreciate the humor. If you don’t get it, look it up and have a good laugh. 😉