Wild Hogs is an entertaining romp that manages to stay on course for most of the ride.
Born to be Wild
PG-13 for crude and sexual content, some violence
The premise is straightforward. Staring middle age in the mirror, four men embark on a cross-country road trip of reawakening and self discovery. They want to shake loose from the shackles of their static lives as a dentist, a plumber, a computer programmer and a lawyer. In short, they want to seize the day before they enter their personal golden sunset.
OK. Maybe that description is too hoity-toity. Especially considering the four men are Tim Allen (The Santa Clause), Martin Lawrence (Bad Boys), William H. Macy (Fargo) and John Travolta (Be Cool). Double that when their road trip entails riding Harleys, drinking beer and picking fights with some real road warriors lead by Ray Liotta (Field of Dreams).
In case there’s still any confusion out there, this isn’t On Golden Pond. This is Wild Hogs, a middle-brow crowd pleaser that keeps the laughs flowing fairly steady before taking a goofy detour that doesn’t quite work right.
Slap the Bull
The shenanigans begin, as all good and worthy shenanigans do, in a bar.
One of the four amigos, Woody (Travolta), is facing the loss of his job, his wife and his house. Discontent for good reason, he pines for the good ol’ days when he and his college buddies ruled the known universe. Chit chat leads to personal challenge and, ultimately, plans of a grandiose motorcycle trek from Ohio to California.
Tossing aside their cell phones and, in the case of henpecked Bobby (Lawrence), offering a lame “business travel” excuse for being away, the guys hit the road in search of good times and good ol’ male bonding.
A string of homophobic jokes notwithstanding, Wild Hogs is simply good-natured fun that manages to give each of its four stars time to shine in the spotlight.
For Travolta, it’s the chance to show a quasi-wimpy side while Macy, as the computer geek and token single member of the group, sports an Apple Computer logo tattoo and woos a hot chick (Marisa Tomei, Factotum). Allen and Lawrence, well they get to do the same kind of shtick that they do so well.
Walt Becker, director of the comedic magnum opus Van Wilder (as Borat would say, “NOT!”), has found a good writer to help him stay out of the gutter, at least most of the time. Brad Copeland, who’s written for TV series including My Name is Earl and Arrested Development, runs the gamut of humor, from slapstick to character-based levity.
Things stay on cruise control for a good portion of the movie, but the story takes a wrong turn when the Wild Hogs visit a biker bar in New Mexico. There the guys meet Jack (Liotta), who heads a biker gang called Del Fuegos. Jack could spot posers like the Wild Hogs from a mile away and he quickly gives them a piece of his mind, railing against suburban assholes buying bikes and leather and thinking they’re real bikers.
Soon enough the Wild Hogs — thanks to a sequence of events set in motion by Woody — find themselves the subjects of the Del Fuegos’ wrath. It’s this part of the storyline that drags the movie down a bit. At times the gears of contrivance can be heard squealing in overdrive.
Even so, Wild Hogs scores enough good laughs to warrant a modest recommendation. Among its best moments are an appearance by Peter Fonda (Easy Rider), who admonishes the Wild Hogs to “lose the watches,” and a clever end credits sequence involving a very, very special episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
As an added bonus, Kyle Gass makes a cameo as an extremely cheesy singer performing at a chile festival. Hmmm... Speaking of Kyle Gass, for an explanation of the value of stupid comedies such as this, please see our review of Nacho Libre.