THE REASONS OLD DOGS never works are as multi-layered and repellent as a festering bandage on a head wound. Follow me, if you can: Once-upon-a-never, the chemistry-bereft duo of Robin Williams and John Travolta jetted down to Miami, got drunk, met some ladies, and formed a conga line (this is Disney shorthand for knocking boots). Years later, Patch Adams gets a call from one of those conga-line ladies (Kelly Preston), who—SURPRISE—has two eight-year-old twins as souvenirs of her unfortunate conga-ing with Mork. Kelly Preston, it turns out, would love to live happily ever after together—but alas, she's going to jail for two weeks and needs an impregnating almost-stranger to look after her children. Since Williams quickly needs to become a dad (and how!), he calls for some help from (who else!) his ol' BFF Travolta. Soon enough, life lessons and crotch shots are had all around.

As Old Dogs lurches from setpiece to setpiece, occasionally it stumbles on the rhythm of a lesser Adam Sandler movie (most memorably when Justin Long's camp counselor straddles Travolta during a Frisbee game, caresses his face, and calls him "sweet warrior"). At other points, the unreality of everything takes on the hue of a Lynch movie—as when Travolta, high on pills, crams a deceased woman's pecan pie into his grinning death-mask of a face.

But the true voice of Old Dogs is much less interesting. Through its parade of slapstick comedy and maudlin, unearned sentiment, the focus never leaves the two leads as they grapple with aging, business, and the constant irritation of having children present. It's a curiously navel-gazing film for old men, dumbed down for second graders. It will please neither of its target audiences.