Old Dogs [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Jeremiah Chin (30th March 2010).
The Film

G.W.F. Hegel has often been referred to as one of the more obtuse philosophers of the modern era, not only is his writing difficult to read even in English translation but his ideas are pretty dense. His major theory though is the Dialectic, consisting of an abstract, negative and concrete describing the way that thought and ideology have to progress. This is commonly simplified down to process of Thesis, Anti-thesis and then Synthesis, where you have an idea, a diametrically opposed idea and an interaction or synthises posed by their interaction.

Example: Thesis; “Robin Wiliams Live on Broadway” (2002) is hilarious, a piece of great comedy by Robin Wiliams, though not family friendly. Anti-Thesis, “Old Dogs” (2009) is the opposite of comedy, a corrosive and destructive piece of film that is antithetical to the meaning of laughter, but very family friendly as in all that’s offensive is how bad the movie is. Synthesis: “Ms. Doubtfire” (1993) a family friendly film that’s actually funny. It’s not chronological, or linear, but it’s the only way I can legitimately understand sitting through “Old Dogs” evil machinations to destroy society by stealing more than $85 million from people’s pockets.

Whatever semblance of plot throws together is so rushed and thoughtless, it’s a paper thin excuse just to throw Robin Wiliams and John Travolta’s names on a movie in the hopes that people will see it. I think they’re supposed to be best friends who are also sports agents and have a company together. Some years back Dan (Robin Wiliams) was depressed and had a one night stand/marriage that resulted in 2 kids he doesn’t find out about until 7 years later and through a deus ex machina has to babysit these twins for a time while their mother serves time in prison for burning down something. Hijinks ensue, cameos abound and your soul will be crushed.

It’s not enough to say that this film is bad, but it’s bordering on hellish. To see a once great comedian and good actor in Robin Wiliams hang out with John Travolta, who hasn’t done something great in years, as the two try to limp through a screenplay that is more amateur improve comedy troupe sketch than film. They don’t do anything to like, anything to enjoy because they have nothing to work with. But they have to take some of the blame because they signed on to this movie. With anyone other than major names this move would have failed and never been heard of again.

But I think I’m being a bit fatalistic, some sort of Hegelian dialectic would call this sort of film important because it makes you recognize what sort of mistakes films make and what is terrible in order to recognize what is great about film. But forget that, I’m no Hegelian, I’m siding with Marx here in saying that this is the inverse of some sort of Hegelian process. This is a systemic series of materialistic decisions have worked to corrupt art and society in order to improve it’s own capitalist profit margins. It takes two men who used to be good at what they do and turned them into pure pieces of corporate fodder, but more importantly demeaning the workers who have paid for this product by insulting their intelligence with the kind of comedy that isn’t worth seeing.

You can pretty easily see that Walt Becker has no sense of what it means to be a good director, and the so-called creative powers of co-screenwriters David Diamond and David Weissman don’t deserve any insults or credit. They are genuinely not worth my time to analyze because this movie is outright terrible.

Between all the attempts at jokes, the gay jokes, the race jokes, old jokes, and cameos from more C-level comedians than I would bother to list (that way no google search can give them more hits than they deserve), this movie is an affront to comedy, the kind of product that doesn’t deserve to exist and should be condemned. It made $85 million and sort of took a piece of my soul.

Don’t even waste your time with “Old Dogs,” just imagine “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” (2008) and make it less funny, but only 88 minutes long. I’m not sure if that helps mitigate anything, but please, stay away.

Video

As with most recent Disney Blu-rays, “Old Dogs” is presented in a 1.85:1, 1080p 24/fps with AVC MPEG-4 encoding I had expectation of crystal clarity but for the most part it’s a little rough. Between the terrible CG used and the rest of the film there’s an odd, amateur photoshop feel. Still the movie is mostly good looking and clean, with a few moments of off quality in some stock images or scenes that could have been shot with a second unit. Still I won’t hold it against the film’s transfer but the original filming instead.

Audio

The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track (48 kHz/24 bit) you have the crystal clarity of something terrible that you’re powerless to stop. Every terrible line, incidental sound and horrible pice of music comes blaring into your ears with a force that has to be reckoned with in a surround sound environment. It’s like being surrounded by a waking nightmare. What I’m trying to say is the film sounds good. Terribly, horribly, frighteningly good. Dialogue is balanced with the music and sounds, both real and cartoony for some supposed comedic effect.
Also included are French, Spanish and Mexican Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks, along with English for the Hearing Impaired, English, French, Spanish and Mexican Spanish subtitle tracks.

Extras

There are special features here, but they just prolong the time you have to spend with the movie, featuring a featurette, blooper reel, deleted scenes and audio commentary. But that’s just on the Blu-ray, as one of Disney’s combo packs it’s a 3-disc set featuring a Blu-ray, DVD and digital copy.

DISC ONE: BLU-RAY

First up is the audio commentary with director Walt Becker, producer Andrew Panay, and screenwriters David Diamond and David Weissman. The four are laughing at the outset before any jokes have been told, revealing their sense of humor since they are laughing that you wasted your time on the movie once and are now wasting it again. It’s a very pause-filled commentary with a lot of awkward silences and meaningless chatter between the four of them. They talk about the weather on set, and whenever a joke happens on screen one of them just simply and monotonously says ‘very funny’ and none of them laughs, which is about how the movie is presented. They comment on the actor’s chemistry and other generic items. It’s not really worth your time but if by some reason you enjoyed the movie I’m sorry that I couldn’t find the same joy in it that you did, but even you, yes you, will probably be bored with this commentary.

“Young Dogs Learn Old Tricks” featurette runs for 2 minutes and 51 seconds, where the two young actors Ella Travolta and Conner Rayburn interview John Travolta and Robin Wiliams respectively. The kids just briefly interview the two older actors with a few generic talk show questions that are quickly answered and clips of the film are shown with a couple of behind-the-scenes shots. Big plus, it’s incredibly short.

“Bloopers” is your general blooper reel which runs for 2 minutes and 26 seconds, featuring a lot of missed high fives, and laughing on set.

There are only 3 deleted scenes, playable together for 3 minutes and 30 seconds or separately:

- “Body Checku” runs for 1 minute and 39 seconds, Dan and Charie leave Japan and Charlie reacts poorly to security, and are sent for body checks in japan.
- “Pâté” runs for 29 seconds, Dan brings a puppy to a dog funeral and people are upset, but the pate is dog pate. Jokes.
- “Alternate End Tag: Tables Turned” runs for 1 minute and 12 seconds, an alternate take of the ending.

There are also 2 music videos:

- “You’ve Been A Friend To Me” by Bryan Adams runs for 2 minutes and 57 seconds.
“Every Little Step” by John Travolta and Ella Travolta which runs for 3 minutes and 33 seconds, and is really creepy to see the Travoltas singing and dancing to pop music, or basically anything that’s not “Grease” (1972)

“Learn How to Take Your Favorite Movies On The Go Disney File Digital Copy” promo spot runs for 1 minute and 4 seconds, which is an ad/instructional video on digital copy.

Finally there is access to BDisney, which is a BD-live feature for disney products where you can view trailers and promotional materials for other disney products with a profile 2.0 Blu-ray player that has internet access.

Bonus trailers are for:

- “Disney Blu-Ray” runs for 1 minute and 1 second.
- “Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition” runs for 1 minute and 8 seconds.
- “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” runs for 2 minutes and 32 seconds.
- “Disney Movie Rewards” runs for 21 seconds.
- “Genuine Treasure: Tinker Bell” runs for 1 minute and 7 seconds.
- “Toy Story & Toy Story 2” runs for 1 minute and 17 seconds.
- “The Princess and the Frog” runs for 1 minute and 51 seconds.
- “When In Rome” runs for 1 minute and 22 seconds.
- “James and the Giant Peach” runs for 1 minute and 2 seconds.
- “ESPN World Cup 2010” runs for 32 seconds.

DISC TWO: DVD

The DVD carries all the same special features as the Blu-ray, except for the “Young Dogs” featurette, the music videos and BD-Live features, with one new item on this disc:

“Dylan & Cole Sprouse: Blu-Ray is Suite” promo spot runs for 4 minutes and 45 seconds, the Disney Duo declares digital copy is sweet. Alliteration.

Bonus trailers are for:

- “Disney Blu-ray” runs for 1 minute and 1 second.
- “Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition” runs for 1 minute and 8 seconds.
- “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” runs for 2 minutes and 32 seconds.
- “Disney Movie Rewards” runs for 21 seconds.
- “Toy Story & Toy Story 2” runs for 1 minute and 17 seconds.
- “The Princess and the Frog” runs for 1 minute and 51 seconds.
- “When In Rome” runs for 1 minute and 22 seconds.
- “James and the Giant Peach” runs for 1 minute and 2 seconds.
- “ESPN World Cup 2010” runs for 32 seconds.

DISC THREE:

This disc is simply a digital copy.

Packaging

This set is packaged in a 3-disc Blu-ray case housed in a cardboard slip-case.

Overall

The Film: F Video: B- Audio: C+ Extras: F Overall: F

 


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