American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
"Old Dogs" is stupefying dimwitted. What were John Travolta and Robin Williams thinking of? Apparently their agents weren't perceptive enough to smell the screenplay in its advanced state of decomposition, but wasn't there a loyal young intern in the office to catch them at the elevator and whisper, "You've paid too many dues to get involved with such crap at this stage in your careers."
In this turkey, Williams and Travolta play business partners trying to float a big deal with Japan. Meanwhile, they're saddled with baby-sitting 6-year-old twins. The film makes a big business meeting in Las Vegas with Japanese investors a study in laugh-avoidance. The Japanese line up on one side of a table in a Japanese restaurant, and Travolta, Williams, their partner Seth Green and a translator are on the other. Travolta tries to warm them up with the funny story of how Williams just got divorced twice in the last 24 hours. The Japanese sit stony-faced. So do we. Then Travolta gets to his big finish, and the Japanese break into helpless laughter. My theory: Since almost all Japanese businessmen in Vegas speak English, they've been playing a practical joke.
"Old Dogs" seems to have lingered in post-production while editors struggled desperately to inject laugh cues. It obviously knows no one will find it funny without being ordered to. How else to explain reaction shots of a dog responding to laugh lines?
Or the painfully obvious use of music as obvious as a yellow highlighter, to point out comedy? Example: Rita Wilson gets her hand slammed by a car trunk lid, and the soundtrack breaks into "Big Girls Don't Cry."