Skip to main content

Old Dogs: Movie Review

Beth Patch


Share This article

Charlie (John Travolta) and Dan (Robin Williams) have been best friends since their late teens and are single, middle-aged business partners. The future of their business hinges on a deal with a Japanese company at the same time that Dan gets the surprise of his life; he’s a father to a pair of 7-year-old fraternal twins. The comedy revolves around Dan’s attempts to be a successful businessman and provide a short-term home for his son Zach (Conner Rayburn) and daughter Emily (Ella Bleu Travolta), while their mother Vicki (Kelly Preston) serves a short sentence in jail for political activism.

Robin Williams successfully pulls off one slapstick funny after another from the moment he begins parenting. His innate ability to get a laugh through his physical delivery of comical stunts rivals that of Lucille Ball in her glory days. The script has written in several humorous bit parts, such as the baby-proofing employees Dan hires to make Charlie's house child-friendly. However, some of the fodder for jokes was stretched into more scenes and more time than seemed necessary, specifically several scenes of Charlie and Dan depicting the side effects of having accidentally taken the wrong medicine. They were funny, but overdone and unbelievable.

The characters and relationships portrayed by the stars seemed authentic. The decades long friendship portrayed by Travolta and Williams was enviable; it’s rare to see the fruits of long-term friendships between men. Travolta was a natural at carrying the persona of the happily-ever-after bachelor with a knack for the ladies. Williams’ performance as the divorced 50-something businessman who had been unlucky at love and now had a chance to be an involved father was plausible. The children worked well together and individually, displaying the childlike reactions to the awkward situation of being thrown into the lives of their estranged father and his best friend. Seth Green’s role was that of a junior businessman in their company. He was one of several characters who added to the humor of trying to balance the big business deal and successful impromptu parenting. Were it not for the strong acting abilities of the headlining stars, this movie would probably not make it to the theaters. The story seems more like a string of silly scenes that border on the absurd.

Our society abounds with examples of the taffy-pulling extremes of being an excellent parent and successful business person. Old Dogs adds another familiar element of the distanced single parent to offer up a light comedy aimed at figuring out what matters most in life. The adventure with these older men, who are willing to learn through making many comical mistakes how to focus on family first, is worth the 88 minutes. The theater was filled with laughter.

Old Dogs is rated PG for containing mild rude humor. The trailers for this movie reveal most of the instances of the rude humor, such as a golfing scene where the tee-off ends up striking Ralph White (Seth Green) in his privates. There are themes throughout the movie that are not foreign to today’s family films, but are edgy. Dan’s fatherhood is the result of a drunken one-night romance and annulled marriage with Vicki. Charlie’s womanizing is continuous. Dan appears in his underwear for a lengthy tanning session. Casual sex and getting drunk are accepted as the norm, but no sexual scenes are shown. However, the language is refreshingly clean if you can ignore one light profanity and questionable innuendos.

Share This article

About The Author

Beth Patch on CBN's Brand Team

Beth Patch is a writer and senior internet producer/editor for She's been writing and producing web content for CBN since 2008. Her empty nest now homes a German shepherd named Princess Leia and a hound dog named Rufus.