Tuesday, December 1, 2009

This Dog Bites

I think Robin Williams decided long ago that he was tired of doing comedies so he decided that they would never rise above the level of lame. How else do you explain one of the world's quickest wits making comedies like RV, Man of the Year and the mindbogglingly stupid License to Wed? This policy could also extend to sentimental melodramas which explains the suck factor of Jack, Patch Adams, The Bicentennial Man and August Rush. No, Williams prefers making intelligent, effective dramas which is why his best work has been in movies like Good Will Hunting, Insomnia and One Hour Photo. Need more proof that I'm right? Watch Old Dogs and say you disagree with me.

Old Dogs is about two successful New York sports marketing executives named Dan (Williams) and Charlie (John Travolta). Judging by their behavior, I would say that these two characters had never before encountered other human beings until the moment this movie began. Every time they're in the same room with other people it's like they go out of their way to make things awkward and uncomfortable. During a critical meeting with clients from Japan who could potentially bring them $50 million in new business, Charlie figures the best way to break the ice is to tell an extremely embarrassing story about Dan in which, after Dan's divorce, they went to Vegas. After drinking a huge amount of alcohol, Dan ended up getting a huge tattoo on his chest which somehow attracted Vicki (Kelly Preston), a woman who gets equally drunk and ends up marrying Dan and getting the whole thing annulled the next day. Because it was convenient for the plot, Vicki waited seven years to tell Dan that their beautiful drunk sex resulted in the birth of twins.

This puts the characters on a collision course not so much with wackiness but with abject stupidity. As I said, Dan and Charlie don't seem to know how to deal with other human beings and were apparently unaware of the existence of children before these two kids came into their lives. Should six year olds see Friday the 13th? Sure, why not? Should you kiss your daughter goodnight or shake her hand? At least Williams figured out afterward how stupid that was.

The movie's greatest sin is that so many of the jokes fail but the reason they fail is because the characters are so unbelievably stupid. Thus, the movie is unbelievably stupid. I will point out that the kids in the audience seemed to love it as kids not even born yet will laugh ten years from now when the same damn movie is made. Until then, we get to guess what sort of comedy stinker Robin Williams will choose as his next project. Will he play a Buddhist monk who must coach a children's hockey team? An alien trying to understand this thing humans call love? A hardboiled New York cop who joins a rural chapter of the Canadian mounties? I can't wait to find out.

No comments: