Wild Hogs review by Tom Blain
At first glance, the casting formula for Wild Hogs is a bit suspect. Tim Allen hasnt made a career out of movies (at least movies you can see him in). If his comedy success was judged by his films, he probably wouldnt get consistent work. John Travolta seems to have success about once a decade while tasting failure for the remainder. It could be that he has his head so far up the ass of scientology, that he cant focus properly on good film decisions (see BATTLEFIELD EARTH). Then there is Martin Lawrence whose movies, in kind words, could be described as an aquired taste. Now if you put this trio together, you would expect a horrible, horrible film; which is truly what I expected with Wild Hogs. The truth is, that as I was watching the film I found myself pleasantly surprised.
Wild Hogs is a biker gang of four middle aged, white collar, suburbanites who own Harleys. The film opens with them riding down some perfect little white picket fence street in black leather looking slightly tough (well, save one). Then the film reveals their home lives. Doug (Tim Allen) is a dentist whose wife and son strictly control his low fat, low cholesterol diet. He seems to have himself a nice little family but no excitement. Bobby (Martin Lawrence) has dreams of putting a do-it-yourself book together, but is so whipped by his bossy wife, that he goes back to being a toilet repair man. Woody (John Travolta) has a McMansion and seemingly rich lifestyle, but is running out of cash quickly and being divorced by his super model wife. Dudley (William H. Macy) is the wild card of the bunch. He is a single computer programmer and the antithesis of cool both on and off the bike. To prove he is cool he gets the Apple logo tattooed on his arm. And he is afraid of women. And he runs his bike into immobile objects quite often.
All four men simultaneously hit a mid-life crisis (although Woodys secret divorce is the real motivating factor) and decide to hit the open road, going from Cincinnati to the Pacific Coast, with no mobile phones, maps, or links to the world that is holding them down. Along the way, they run into fiascos with camping in the wilderness, a gay traffic cop who picks up a vibe, swarms of bugs, and true bikers in the Hells Angels sense. Of course their main challenge comes when they are hit with the realization that they do not mix well and are not as tough and wild as the image they are trying to project which in turn causes conflicts between them and the real biker gangs.
The high points in the movie come on the road. A good portion of the movie follows the road trip formula, which means there are a great number of stop offs at different locations each with its own problems leading to comic moments. Some of the funniest moments include the always funny John C. McGinley, who is a highway patrol man who flirts with the guys every chance he gets. Of the four main characters, William H. Macys role generates the most laughs with his doofish act and solid physical comedy. In the hands of a lesser actor this could have as a bit hambone-ish, but Macy brings the laughs.
Where the movie falls apart is when the road trip essentially comes to a halt and a new story begins where the Hogs must help out a town High Noon style (or maybe closer to Three Amigos style). At this point the comedy starts to take a back seat to additional story lines, new characters, an introduced love interest, and a dose of drama. This is a common mistake. A good road trip movie should keep the trip going, and not reach its apex during a subplot. This should have been the case especially for a cheeseball movie like Wild Hogs which worked better when it was dishing campy jokes than when it took the high road. When the bikes stop moving, so does the comedy.
Although I dont ride myself, I do have a number of buddies who park their road cruisers in suburban town home garages. Watching a movie like Wild Hogs brought some enjoyable moments when I could picture some of my clown friends in the same situations. The movie does a good job of poking fun at that tough as nails image within the clean-cut and safe urban sprawl. As I mentioned before I thought the movie would be crap when I saw initial previews, so I guess in giving it a medium rating of 5 it has exceeded my expectations without blowing them away. One problem with recommending movies like Wild Hogs is that the enjoyment comes in waves with somewhat high peaks in certain scenes and low dull points in others. Enjoy at your own risk, and with a DOT approved helmet.
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