Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews
- Category: Jacqueline Monahan
- Published on 02 December 2009
- Written by Jacqueline Monahan
Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
Baby Boom is back, only the kids are older and there are two of them. There are two caretakers, too, in the form of middle-aged lifelong pals Charlie (John Travolta) and Dan (Robin Williams). How these two cope with Dan’s newfound fatherhood in a decidedly adult atmosphere – and by that I mean sophisticated, without child-proof locks or access to grilled cheese – makes up the basis of this disjointed and uninspired effort.
It seems Dan had a failed first marriage, but meets his rebound wife Vicky (Kelly Preston) at a singles retreat he attended with Charlie. A whirlwind marriage disintegrates after a few hours. Now seven years later Vicky shows up with twins Zach (Conner Rayburn) and Emily (Ella Bleu Travolta) in tow, ready for them to meet daddy. Vicky has a sister, Jenna, (Rita Wilson) who’s a hand model. Believe it or not, this is integral to the plot.
Charlie and Dan are business partners, too, courting a multimillion-dollar deal pending with a Japanese multinational. The kids’ needs get in the way, but since they are emotional-screw-up Dan’s chance at a second childhood himself, he takes on the challenge. Seven-year-olds are ambulatory so the adventures can include energetic play romps and camping adventures that leave the guys out of breath (and pace) with their younger counterparts. Grandparent jokes abound.
A junior partner in the business, Ralph, (Seth Green) adds an additional element of silliness to the proceedings, prompting me to think his character was included to appeal to the crowd too young to remember Welcome Back Kotter or Mork and Mindy. Ralph is the man with the $3000 kimono that he bought to celebrate the 47 million dollar deal about to close with the Japanese firm. He’s going to represent the company for Charlie and Dan. By film’s end he’s in the arms of a sleeping gorilla singing a lullaby to keep it calm.
The very lame and contrived premise has the pair caring for the children during their mother Vicky’s two-week incarceration for activism. Because there’s a girl and a boy there will be tea parties and toilet humor. A totally wasted-in-the-role Bernie Mac plays an effeminate children’s show character, Jimmy Lunchbox, good for supplying a motion suit so that Dan can simulate proper (read whimsical) responses for his daughter. Sound weird? Looks that way too.
Other gags included the two accidentally taking each other’s medication and the resulting side effects at a posh country club event. If there is any humor to be found in the film, it is here, but short-lived and ultimately too absurd to believe.
Even cameos by the usually hilarious Amy Sedaris and a rare appearance by Ann-Margaret can’t rally the proceedings past the recognition factor. There’s nothing for the ladies to do here except be added to the roster of talent that’s wasted.
Director Walter Becker (Wild Hogs) is a fish out of water, right along with his characters in this one. Written by two Davids (Diamond and Weissman, who also wrote Minutemen), the script provides little for these two acting titans to do besides show up and react to situations that are improbable at best and moronic at worst.
John Travolta breezes through his character’s lines with the same kind of comic suaveness that launched Vinnie Barbarino into the atmosphere, only here the desperately unfunny material doesn’t work with his effort. Robin Williams looks mighty uncomfortable in his somewhat subdues, straight-man role, like he’s got on a necktie that’s too tight (or like he knew he was in a dud long before filming ended).
Rita Wilson has a tiny part, yet manages to look and act as if lobotomized. The normally sophisticated Kelly Preston’s loopy and irresponsible character makes one wonder if she is in cahoots with her husband to star in this disappointment just to be able to make it a family affair alongside daughter Ella, whose over-enunciation can be distracting.
Seth Green’s character morphs into serious, zany and cowardly antics by turn simply because the script calls for it. He’s good at what he does, just not in this film.
Travolta and Williams play old and silly with a tired slapstick that can leave viewers insulted by the amount of slop er…ludicrous nonsense they’re expected to swallow. There’s no charm or connection between the characters either, just a collection of types strung together like a macaroni necklace you wouldn’t consider wearing.
As cliché as the saying itself is, there are, sadly, no new tricks in Old Dogs.