There comes a time in a man’s life when he realizes that the autumn of his years are upon him. During these times such a man may want to relive the glory days of his fading youth. He usually gathers with his friends; lift a few drinks and dream of adventures. In some cases they may actually take off from their routine world and for a brief time recapture some echo of those wild days long gone. One of the more common middle aged male fantasies is the road trip. Taking off into the unknown inspired by films like ‘Easy Rider’, men have taken to the roads of America on motorcycles ‘looking for adventure’. The latest film to explore this very typically male motive is Walt Becker’s ‘Wild Hogs’. Here, a group of men facing the later part of their lives go off on their bikes to find something different and exciting, unlike the mundane world they normally inhabit. This film has all the elements needed for success but just falls short of achieving it. It may appeal to the men of the age depicted since there is a greater opportunity for identification with the protagonists. As it is the film is a slick, high concept comedy that winds down into a slapstick laden farce. Now don’t get me wrong, there is a place for a film such as this. Mostly it will work if you call up a few male friends on a rainy Saturday afternoon, get some pizza and a case of beer and kick back. Just make sure your wives have the credit cards so after a few of the aforementioned beers you and your buddies don’t try to actually plan a trip like this.
Four men who live and work in the city of Cincinnati have been friends for a very long time. Each is living a life that they never thought they would have, a routine, spirit killing existence that is a far cry from what they expected. Of course this is the view held by the majority of adult males in human history so it can be said they are regular Joes who gather together on a regular basis to complain. Doug Madsen (Tim Allen) is a nice enough guy who works as a dentist. His biggest problem in life seems to be his eternal battle with his cholesterol numbers. He feels that his college student son is drifting away from him. He also can’t let go of the old, more exciting days of his youth. Dudley Frank (William H. Macy) is an awkward man working as a computer programmer. He has never been successful with the ladies much to his chagrin. Just the thought of approaching a woman fills him with dread. Bobby Davis (Martin Lawrence) is a plumber who is almost completely hen-pecked by his over baring and demanding wife, Karen (Tichina Arnold). The one member of this little group who seems to have it all is Woody Stevens (John Travolta). He owns a successful business and is married to a wife who was a former super model. That is until about three months ago when the wife took off with everything. Over the years the four would meet once a week. They would put on their leather riding outfits, hop on their Harley-Davidsons and grab a couple of beers together. The impending divorce is more than Woody can deal with so he makes the suggestion that the ‘Wild Hogs’, as they call themselves, take off on a cross country road trip.
For most of the remainder of the flick the boys find themselves in one bizarre situation after another. One night they are sleeping in their underwear and get a little too close for warmth. A policeman (John C. McGinley) comes across them. He decides to bust their chops a bit and informs them they are guilty of lewd and lascivious behavior. Later on the guys are skinny dipping and a family comes upon them. The family is horrified at the sight of four middle aged men swimming naked. Once again the officer arrives on the scene. This time he joins them and as it turns out is gay and attracted to them. The real action occurs when the group stops off in New Mexico. They enter a bar for a drink only to discover that it is a biker bar that serves the dreaded local gang, the Del Fuegos. They leader, Jack (Ray Liotta) has nothing for contempt for the ersatz bikers. Jack forces the guys into a bad bike trade and winds up stealing one of their rides, Dudley’s bike. The guys leave the bar with their tails between their legs. Woody decides that they have to get even. He sneaks back to cut the fuel lines of every one of the Del Fuegos’ bikes. He then takes back Dudley’s bike and leaves. A carelessly tossed cigarette hits the pool of gasoline and soon a chain reaction blows up not only every one of the outlaw’s bikes but their beloved bar as well. The rest of the film involved the guys saving a small town, Dudley finding love and even the restoration of the bar thanks to an end credits appearance by Extreme Makeover’s Ty Pennington.
This is a pretty formulaic buddy comedy/road trip flick that starts off well. It can even be said that the pacing is well done and the over all production is slick. What bogs the movie down is the level of the humor. It often relies too much on scatological and homophobic humor which brings it down to where most teen oriented movies reside. You can predict what is going to happen a mile off with most of the gags presented here. On the up side this is, as mentioned above, perfect for a boy’s night out. The wives will most likely not get into the brand of humor here but with a pizza in one hand a beer in the other the guys can get into the group dynamic. For the right audience this is a fun flick.
This is a stellar cast from the four leads to the bad guy and even the smaller roles. No one does the dead pan every day guy like William H. Macy. You can identify with him immediately. His innate sense of comic timing helps to hold this film together. For Tim Allen and Martin Lawrence they rely too much on their television personas and don’t risk much. John Travolta may not be known much for comedy but he does rise to the occasion here. One of the best performances is by John C. McGinley of television’s ‘Scrubs’ fame. His over the top performance is great to watch. Ray Liotta is such a good actor that he can combine tough with funny as few of his peers can. What is a biker, road trip flick without a cameo appearance by Peter Fonda? His role is small but fun to watch.
Disney with Buena Vista releases this film to DVD with their usual flair. The anamorphic 2.35:1 video is flawless with bright, realistic colors. The Dolby 5.1 audio is also well done and even the sub woofer gets a little work out, especially during the explosion scene. There is a commentary track featuring director Walt Becker and screen writer Brad Copeland. There is also an alternate ending and a deleted scene. The disc has two featurettes; ‘Bikes, Brawls and Burning Bars’ and ‘How to get your wife to let you buy a motorcycle’. Have your friends over, send your wives out and have a little fun.