**1/2 (out of 5)
March 2, 2007
Tim Allen as DOUG MADSEN
John Travolta as WOODY STEVENS
Martin Lawrence as BOBBY DAVIS
William H. Macy as DUDLEY FRANK
Ray Liotta as JACK
Marisa Tomei as MAGGIE
Directed by: Walt Becker
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
In my business, you don’t just see a lot of movies. You also see a lot of movie trailers. I’ve seen enough movie trailers to get a decent feel for what the film will be like. Sometimes I’m wrong. Other times, it’s just not a good trailer. However, usually I get a pretty good feeling for the film based on what I see in the trailer.
When I saw the trailer for “Wild Hogs” for the first time, I was dreading the film. It’s not that it looked like a particularly bad movie, but that it looked like it was trying too hard. It just had this air of stink around it. However, after seeing the film, I will admit that it has a certain amount of charm.
This doesn’t mean it’s a great film by any stretch of the imagination. There’s a lot of jokes in here that fall flat, and some of the performances (mainly those by Travolta, Allen and Lawrence) aren’t the best of their careers. But on a certain, basic level, the film works to a degree.
“Wild Hogs” tells the story of a group of suburban bikers from Cincinnati. Not quite a gang, these middle-aged pansies call themselves the Wild Hogs when they ride around the neighborhood. They are bored with their lives, each one facing his own version of a mid-life crisis. To re-invigorate themselves, they hop on their bikes and venture out on a cross-country road trip.
Along the way, somewhere in New Mexico, this suburban gang runs into a real gang of honest-to-god bikers known as the Del Fuegos. They get into a confrontation, words are exchanged, and the Wild Hogs accidentally blow up the biker bar. That sends them on the run to a small town often terrorized by the Del Fuegos.
The plot of this film is stupidly simple. It’s really nothing new, but as far as stock plots go, it works enough to get by. Don’t expect “Easy Rider.” Instead, expect a middle-age version of “Billy Jack” with a “Benji” plot. In many ways, it felt like a plot written for an old Disney movie starring Dean Jones. Yet there are a few unnecessary four-letter words thrown in to get a PG-13 rating. Perhaps the studio figured it would work better if it catered to the middle-aged crowd.
I will admit that there were a nice collection of funny lines and scenes. It’s not a gut-buster, but it’s bearable, which is about all we can ask for nowadays from these early spring releases. Don’t think too hard about this movie, and don’t expect too much. It’s no masterpiece for sure, but it might just make you laugh… at least a little bit.
Ultimately, there are two things that saved this movie from being a total stinker. The first is William H. Macy. While John Travolta, Tim Allen and Martin Lawrence phone in their lines and rely on stock character ticks, Macy puts a different spin to a relatively mundane character. He’s the source of most of the comedy, which you’d otherwise expect from Allen and Lawrence, the comedians of the group.
Along with Macy, John C. McGinley deserves a special nod for making a one-note joke cameo into one of the most memorable characters in the movie.
The second thing that saves the film is a hilarious spoof over the closing credits. I can’t say what it is, since it would spoil part of the plot and the overall surprise of the scene. Just take my word for it: this ending is funnier than anything else in the movie. In fact, if the whole film was like this, it would be a five-star film.