Wild Hogs (2007)
Wild Hogs (2007)

Genre: Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 40 min.

Release Date: March 2nd, 2007 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Walt Becker Actors: Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, William H. Macy, Ray Liotta, Marisa Tomei, Jill Hennessy

 


 

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hat starts as a gay-joke-laced Tim Allen comedy quickly morphs into a disastrous, problem-laden melodrama that falls into the timeworn trap of stark seriousness injected into general levity. When the conflict is too colossal, the only solution is nonsense. A variegated yet forgettable cast, flat gags, and an unrealistically neat and tidy conclusion make this desperate feel-good movie look like second-class, TV-show salvage.

Four middle-aged friends (Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, and William H. Macy) reach a midlife crisis in which they are bored with their everyday routines and threadbare family activities. Having a tradition of going to the local bar, riding motorcycles, and wearing black leather adorned with a fictitious “Wild Hogs” gang logo, the lot decides to go on a road trip for some much-needed psychological rejuvenation. But in taking in the sights and the fresh air, they encounter a licentious policeman, a barbarous real biker gang, and an abundance of misadventures in the peaceful chile-loving town of Madrid, New Mexico.

While most of the diverse cast manages to play it relatively inconspicuously, Martin Lawrence feels completely out of place, doing a caricatured piece too over-the-top to be even marginally believable. He also seems younger and cruder, which doesn’t match up with the fatigued attitudes and fashioning of the others. Travolta is passable, despite attempting more and more against-type comedies of late, hoping to conceal the fact that he’s just old enough and out of shape enough to no longer convince as a macho action hero. And Allen plays the only part he’s every played on film, while William H. Macy tries to disappear into the background.

The story wishes to be a comedy, but the plotline resembles far more serious fare. The film falls into a classic plot deterioration complex in which the conflict created for the protagonists to overcome is so incredibly severe that the only solution is one of blind luck, divine intervention, or fortuitous coincidence (or all three). The mood is supposed to be carefree and silly, but the loss of all authenticity transforms the entire premise into absurdity. The screenwriters couldn’t figure out how to solve the enormous dilemma they manufactured for themselves – and it doesn’t fool anyone. Thankfully, the script didn’t opt for the classic “it was all just a bad dream” gimmick. But after designing such a dire dilemma, the film forces characters to behave unfaithfully just to wind things down.

Another aspect that doesn’t coalesce smoothly is the strikingly intense villains. Ray Liotta embodies the rival biker gang’s leader in such an unpleasant and sinister role that it feels contradictory to the playful perspective of the rest of the picture. Towards the middle of the movie, viewers will probably be shrinking in fear for the hero foursome, due to the asperity of their enemies. The only imaginable conclusion for Liotta’s character is that he will resort to murder in compensation for the wrongs done to him; when that isn’t feasible in a film engineered like this, all other solutions only disrupt the suspension of disbelief – including all the heavy-handed punches endured by the Wild Hogs without actually incurring any injuries.

Lots of interesting cameos and bit parts are thrown into the film, which definitely helps, but not sufficiently. Legendary “Easy Rider” Peter Fonda makes an appearance, as well as “Loveline” guru Dr. Drew. Marisa Tomei is the love interest, while character actors John C. McGinley, Kyle Gass, and Stephen Tobolowsky turn up in brief spots. But a who’s-who of familiar faces has little impact on the entertainment value. Although this production is mildly fun at times, it’s really only appealing to fans of John Travolta, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence, and William H. Macy – and not just one of them, but all of them.

– Mike Massie

  • 4/10