Thursday, November 26, 2009

Old Dogs

Unfortunately some men have the reputation of being a dog, a metaphor that isn’t all that pleasurable and normally has negative connotations. With the release of the new movie Old Dogs starring Robin Williams and John Travolta that metaphor is taken to a new place. A place where we see the love a man can have for an old dog, but better yet, the love that can come about when one discovers family. Such is the case with Old Dogs, it has some rather nice things to say, in a fun and enjoyable way.

Old Dogs is a well directed, and put together film. There is a great sound track and we have exactly what we have come to expect with films involving John Travolta and Robin Williams. While Travolta is just a tad less than what we normally come to expect, Williams is once again at the top of the game, showing that not only is he a comedic genius, but quite a nice actor. There are the bit parts played by people like Seth Green, Kelly Preston, Bernie Mac, Matt Dillon and numerous others including Conner Rayburn and Ella Bleu Travolta, John Travolta’s daughter. While the story falls a little flat at times it is still a quite enjoyable movie with a cast of characters that provide some memorable experiences.

Old Dogs follows the exploits of long time friends, Charlie played by John Travolta and Dan, played by Robin Williams. These two have a life time of friendship and have grown up to have a business in sports marketing that is doing quite well. Over the years, these bachelors have had their moments, from two divorces in a 24 hour period for Dan, to the popular womanizing by Charlie. The two are in a time of their life where they have the opportunity to sign a 40 plus million dollar deal with some Japanese investors. They along with coworker Ralph White, played to the hilt by Seth Green come across a road block just as Dan decides to touch base with an old flame. After a number of years of not seeing this person, he comes to realize that he has fathered two children, twins, with one of the women he has thought of often. Suddenly he is forced to take two weeks of his life to care for his children and in the process, he not only learns about being a father, but about real friendship.

While many will notice the storyline involving Dan becoming a father, there was another storyline which I really appreciated, that shown of the friendship between Dan and Charlie. We see this portrayed quite nicely when Charlie looses the love of his life. We see a friend be a friend and for guys, to have a real friendship displayed on screen is something quite nice. To see it played in the way it is here is not only nice, it is rare. Men need friendships but are quite often, due to societal expectations among other things, void of those friendships. The stereotypes are played out in the film but we see a friendship that goes beyond those stereotypes. We see a friendship that has men having friends in a loving and caring way. Many men will see this portrayed on screen and desire the same type of relationship.

Of course this isn’t the only theme played out in the movie; we also see the realization and epiphany on the importance of family and responsibility. The relationship that takes place between Dan and his children, Zach and Emily is nice to see. We see and understand the importance of a father being a father and putting his children in their proper place of respect. This may mean less work, sacrifice, and changing schedules, but Dan ultimately comes to realize that it is the children who, even within a two week time frame teach him the important lessons of life. It isn’t money, it isn’t vocation, ultimate responsibility, and ultimate meaning for a father is to become a father. In a world where so many fathers fail, we also see a wonderful representation that even in a short time; we can all correct the mistakes of our past.

This isn’t a great movie, but it is a very good and enjoyable movie that many families will enjoy seeing together. You will laugh and you will think about the characters played out on screen. I also appreciated the cameo roles in the film, from Ann-Margaret to the late Bernie Mac, there are a number of fun, touching moments. Don’t get me wrong, while there are plenty of laughs, there are also plenty of meaningful moments. I think it is one of the reasons this movie plays out so well. While this isn’t an ‘Award’ winning film, outside of maybe recognition for the appropriate father and friendship roles portrayed, it is a film that is a fun watch. Old Dogs is not the best movie Williams and Travolta have done, but it is still quite enjoyable and one I think most people, especially fathers and men will enjoy along with their family. It isn’t often that this type of presentation occurs showing the love of a father, and the deep friendship among men, but this is a good one. It is one I am glad I saw, and one I think most people will enjoy.

On a scale of 1 – 10, take away those three amigos, Dan, Charlie and Ralph, we still have a pretty fun presentation on screen, an enjoyable 7

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