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As family comedies go, OLD DOGS ($45) hasn’t leaned any new tricks. In fact, OLD DOGS is about as formulaic as this type of film goes, but it does provide a fairly consistent number of giggles, as well as a few belly laughs for the broadest slapstick moments. The premise of OLD DOGS is concerned with Charlie Reed (John Travolta) and Dan Rayburn (Robin Williams), who have been best friends since their youth, as well as partners in a successful sports marketing firm. During a business meeting Charlie relays the story of how, seven years earlier, when Dan was depressed about his divorce, Charlie tried to cheer him up by taking him on a tropical vacation, which lead to an alcohol induced whirlwind romance, marriage and annulment from a woman he just met named Vicki (Kelly Preston).

Even seven years after their shirt-lived relationship, Dan still feels that Vicki may have truly been his soul mate and he sets up a lunch for them to become reacquainted. At the lunch, Vicki drops a bombshell on Dan… telling him that he is the father of her seven-year-old twins- Zach (Conner Rayburn) and Emily (Ella Bleu Travolta). Before he has time to recover, Vicki then drops a second bombshell… she is going to jail for two weeks for environmental activism. While Vicki has her best friend Jenna (Rita Wilson) on tap to watch the children, Dan causes a mishap for Jenna, which results in the new father having to take care of his children for the two weeks. As you might expect, much of the comedy of OLD DOGS is derived from Dan and Charlie’s complete lack parenting skills, as well as other situations they encounter as a result of the children suddenly being in their lives. The cast of OLD DOGS also features Lori Loughlin, Seth Green, Bernie Mac, Matt Dillon, Ann-Margret and Amy Sedaris.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has made OLD DOGS available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. OLD DOGS boasts a fairly winning 1080p presentation. Image sharpness and the level of dimensionality come across in a highly pleasing manner. Fine details are well represented, plus the picture provides very nice texturing. Colors are vibrant and reproduced without flaws, although the flesh tones sometimes seem a little too bronzed for their own good. Blacks are deep and the whites appear crisp. Contrast is very smooth, and the level of shadow detail is relatively good, but then again the film doesn’t make too many demands in this area. The elements from which OLD DOGS are transferred appear virtually pristine. Grain is fairly modest maintains a nice organic quality for the presentation.

OLD DOGS is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. As a minor surprise, OLD DOGS comes with a somewhat better than expected comedy mix, which allows the outlying channels engage during the more active moments. Of course, much of OLD DOGS still plays in the talky comedy mode, with a lot of the sound localized to the forward hemisphere. The lossless encode certainly enhances the musical component and the track has a decent bottom end. Dialogue is cleanly reproduced and is easy to understand. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the extras. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director Walt Becker, producer Andrew Panay, and writers David Diamond and David Weissman. Other extras include the Featurette: Young Dogs Learn New Tricks, Music Videos for the songs You've Been A Friend To Me by Bryan Adams, and Every Little Step by John Travolta and Ella Bleu Travolta, plus Deleted Scenes and Bloopers. Disc two offers a DVD copy of the movie for those who are on the fence about making the upgrade to Blu-ray, while disc three provides a Digital Copy of the film.

OLD DOGS isn’t a particularly original family comedy, but does provide some giggles and a few outright laughs. The Blu-ray presentation may be the best thing about OLD DOGS, so those interested in seeing the film would be best served by checking it out in high definition.



Old Dogs - 3 Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack (Includes DVD + Digital Copy) (2009)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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