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Travolta and Williams Make You Nostalgic for Battlefield Earth

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Over the five-day Thanksgiving weekend, Old Dogs made $24 million, not exactly a blockbuster, but with a budget of $35 million, once this "film" (I promised myself years ago I'd stop using air-quote marks in speech and when writing -- a promise I've sadly failed to keep) is finished stealing from us, it might actually make a little cash.

That's a shame, because Old Dogs is the worst movie in botn Robin Williams' and John Travolta's career. And that's saying something. Because that list includes Battlefield Earth, License to Wed and RV.

It's currently at 6% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is roughly 7% too high.

We know both men are capable of memorable work (Underrated Travolta films: The General's Daughter, Primary Colors. Undervalued Williams movies: this year's World's Greatest Dad, Insomnia.). So it's hard to imagine what made these two actors say "yes" to Old Dogs.

Then again, it did take in $24 million despite trailers practically ordering you not to laugh. And you know what? My theater guffawed its way through most the movie. One guy behind me kept laughing and repeating punch lines aloud. Must have happened 8 times. Swear to God. This is how it went:

Matt Dillon's character (a rugged camp counselor): "You ladies ready for a little ultimate frisbee?"
Robin Williams: "I think so, Mr. Testosterone."
Guy behind me (laughing inexplicably): "Mr. Testosterone."

And he'd say it in the kind of laugh-talk way local TV anchors chat with the weather girl.

Weather Girl: "So it'll be sunny and close to 80 right through the weekend. Chet, Camille..."
Chet: "Great Sherry (chuckling), thanks for the super forecast (more meandering laughter).
Camille (smiling vacantly and, of course, also chortling): "I'll say! Awesome work, Sherry (he-he-he)."

Turns out, my guy wasn't alone. I just went on line to re-watch the trailer and quickly found comments like, "I just saw it too. We laughed so hard we cried" and "This movie was SOOOO funny. Bummer it got bad reviews. It was AMAZING."

Really? Amazing? I don't think so. Skype is amazing -- you can actually see the person you're talking to! It's like living in the future. You know what else is amazing? The Grand Canyon, the New Orleans Saints offense and Harry Reid's ability not to punch Joe Lieberman in the face.

By the way, the movie is about two life-long friends who become sports marketing geniuses. They're single and childless and then -- BAM -- Robin Williams learns he has seven-year-old twins. For two weeks, he and Travolta have to take care of the tykes while their mother is in prison for killing a drifter.

I made the drifter part up. Though it would've made the movie better.

Seth Green is also in it, oddly paying tribute to some of his earlier work. In one scene (it's in the trailer), Williams, Travolta and Green break into the zoo. They find themselves stuck in the Gorilla habitat. Williams and Travolta escape but Green is taken by the gorilla and cradled like a baby. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Green is in almost the same exact scene in the 2004 Dax Shepard vehicle Without a Paddle. Only in that movie, Green is mothered by a bear, not a gorilla.

Well there it is -- we can pretty much say it definitively now. It was Thanksgiving, 2009 when American Cinema hits its nadir, when we started paying homage to Without a Paddle. At least we can say we were there.