'Wild Hogs' - Uneasy Riders
Review By Robert Snyder
There is a sad aspect to what is the mindlessly funny road-trip-buddy movie, "Wild Hogs." It's that all four charismatic movie-star leads (plus the villain and a non-credited cameo) are playing clichéd caricatures of roles that once led them to fame and fortune. If their careers were to end tomorrow, they should pray that they would not be remembered for "Wild Hogs."
The star quartet play suburban friends who are seemingly comfortable, but going crazy from complacency. Doug Madsen (Tim Allen), Woody Stevens (John Travolta), Bobby Davis (Martin Lawrence) and Dudley Frank (William H. Macy) let off steam as members of a motorcycle club called "Wild Hogs," named such because one of their wives sewed the emblem onto their leather jackets.
Clearly defined are the reasons for each Hog's individual angst. Computer programmer Dudley's a dud with women and almost everything else. Plumber-writer-wannabe Bobby is henpecked. Dentist Doug is cholesterol-controlled and tied to his tedious work. Woody has just lost his supermodel wife and heading into bankruptcy. While nursing beers and personal headaches, they arrive at a solution: Hit the open road. Classic guitar rock blaring on the soundtrack, they throw out their cell phones, hop on their hogs and head for places unknown…for a few weeks, anyway.
Roaring down the highway are not only the middle-life-crisis "mavericks," but running gags about bird poop, pissing and homophobia. The latter bits are completely politically incorrect, with Dudley's lonely bachelor often getting too close for comfort to sexually-insecure Woody. Also tossed in the mix is an outwardly macho gay motorcycle cop, played by the usually macho John C. McGinley.
However, the real conflict comes in the form of an authentic, bad-boy biker gang headed by Jack (a mean Ray Liotta, spoofing his "Something Wild" psycho role). After some major Hog humiliation, Woody retaliates by sabotaging their cycles, which inadvertently causes the incineration of the gang-owned bar. Avoiding the truth, Woody tells his buddies that he scared off the bikers with a threatened lawsuit.
Out of gas and luck, the Hogs hang out in a small town called Madrid, where a festival is being held. Pretty local girl Maggie (Marisa Tomei) provides some love interest for girl-shy Dudley, to whom Woody shows a few dance steps (one day, Travolta will really do another great dance movie, à la "Saturday Night Fever").
The scenario now takes on shades of "The Magnificent Seven," when the Hogs are asked to defend the frightened town-folk against the marauding gang members. Things begin to get serious as fists start to fly. But the brutality is halted with the appearance of a legendary cyclist from Hollywood lore (the aforementioned non-credited cameo). Although it's a box office hit, "Wild Hogs" is a minor bump in the careers of the four stars, who apparently wanted to take the time to let loose on the road…and their careers.
Don't let your money loose on this time waster.