Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I'm all out of love for "ogs" movies

I've made no secret of the fact that I enjoyed Wild Hogs.

You know, last year's mega-hit featuring John Travolta, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence and William H. Macy as middle-aged dudes trying to recapture their sense of adventure on a cross-country motorcycle trip? The one we all turned our nose up at, assuming only a moron could like it? The one whose trailer seemed to disqualify it from the very possibility of being liked?

Yep, that one. I liked it. I make no bones about it.

The fact that I even saw it in the first place was/is somewhat shocking to me, since I was not actually reviewing it. In fact, I brought it home from the library as a joke. My wife was trying to watch road movies as part of research for a road movie she's writing, and I told her I would look for some at the library. I thought bringing home Wild Hogs would get enough of a laugh to justify taking up a third of my allotted rental spots. (I also brought home The Motorcycle Diaries, which we had both already seen, and one other.) And then, lo and behold, we actually watched it.

What can I say, it was funny. Sure, it was also dumb in spots, but its overarching vibe was a good one. The closing credits themselves are worth the price of admission. One strident principle I have as a film critic is not to be ashamed of what movies worked for you. Just hold your head up high, give them their due, and move on.

The first thing most people said when they saw the poster for Old Dogs was "What is that, a sequel to Wild Hogs?"

It isn't, but it certainly could be. Not only does John Travolta reappear, but Old Dogs is also directed by Walt Becker, who directed Wild Hogs. This is no mere marketing accident. The producers of Old Dogs are certainly relying on the same crowds who helped that movie rake in a staggering $168 million. If the titles sound similar and the movie has one of the same stars, all the better.

Except this time, I really, truly, indubitably, absolutely CAN NOT imagine the movie being good.

You'd think I'd have learned from my Wild Hogs experience not to indict any movie -- ANY movie -- prematurely. It's the shining example of how you can't always judge a book by its cover.

But let me say this right now: If Old Dogs is good, I will eat my shoes.

Seeing the original poster for it was one thing. Wild Hogs may have made me judge Travolta less harshly, but I remain as skeptical as ever of Robin Williams -- even if I did enjoy him in Bobcat Goldthwait's World's Greatest Dad earlier this year.

But seeing the trailer? Oh, God. I didn't actually claw my eyes out, but it took some restraint.

The trailer is moronic from the first moment to the last, but the last is easily the most moronic. Seth Green -- seen earlier getting hit in the balls with a golf ball -- has gone into a gorilla enclosure at a zoo to help find Williams' kid. Naturally, he ends up being cradled by a gorilla, singing Air Supply's "All Out of Love." I say "naturally" because I have seen some variation of this joke in countless other movies, and it wasn't funny in any of them, either.

In fact, part of the reason I was inspired to write about this movie now, rather than waiting two weeks for the eve of its release, was that they just started using this image from the trailer as a new movie poster. I so desperately wanted to use this poster with this post that I had to go with the only one I could find online: the Russian version, written in Cyrllic. Suffice it to say that the one appearing on bus stops around town has the title in English.

So let's get this straight ... not only is the gorilla cradling Green the stupidest image from the trailer, but it got enough yuks from enough morons that they actually added it to the poster, just to remind the morons of the yuks they produced when they saw the trailer? (Ordinarily, I would have found an alternative to the word "moron" after the fourth or fifth reference, but no other word works nearly so well.)

To recap any of the other moronic details from the Old Dogs trailer would just make me want to claw my eyes out again. And really, I need them to see. I like seeing.

Is there a possibility that I could like Old Dogs? Yes, there is.

And since I don't want to actually eat my shoes, as I promised to do earlier, I guess my only choice is never to see Old Dogs. If I never see it, in my mind, it will always be terrible.

But I don't want to live my life any differently. Another policy I live by is to be willing to see any movie that has ever been made. If Old Dogs were playing on a plane, and I hadn't see it, and it wasn't a red-eye where I desperately needed some sleep, I would ordinarily watch it. Now I'll have to abstain.

The thing is, when you think about, only good things can come out of watching Old Dogs. If I hate it, well then, it gets the adrenaline of my hate juices flowing, and confirms my every suspicion about it. I get to feel superior and hold it up as an example of the decline of western civilization.

And if I like it ... well then, I'd be just as happy to have seen it as I'm happy to have seen Wild Hogs.

Here's hoping I'm not scheduled for any plane trips approximately three months after its release.

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