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RUNNING TIME: 100 Minutes
• “Bikes, Brawls, and Burning Bars: The Making of Wild Hogs”
• How to Get Your Wife to Let You Buy a Motorcycle
• Deleted Scenes and Alternate Ending
• Audio Commentary with Director Walt Becker and Writer Brad Copeland
“Three has-beens and one great in a formulaic biker comedy? Who wouldn’t want to see that?”
Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, William H. Macy, Marisa Tomei, Ray Liotta
Are you a middle-aged, emasculated, upper-Middle Class man? Want to reclaim your nuts? Then do what Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, and William H. Macy did—buy a motorcycle and see the USA. You’ll find action, excitement, and maybe a little of that precious dignity you’re missing!
And if this were a documentary, I’d shoot myself in the face.
Wild Hogs is somewhat of a tough movie to write about. It is, in no way, shape, or form, remotely memorable. You see it, and almost immediately it disappears into the ether. Maybe that’s why it’s grossed almost $200 million to date; people see it multiple times having forgotten they’ve been down this road before.
It certainly can’t be the quality of the flick. Director Walt Becker and writer Brad Copeland seem to adhere to the Brett Ratner School of Giving the Viewer Exactly What They Want Without Leaving Any Discernable Directorial/Writing Stamp. The direction is serviceable, but in a Disney Channel movie way—point and shoot, all the way. We don’t even get any really striking shots of “the road,” and this is a fucking road trip movie, for God’s sake. Meanwhile, the script trots out all the staples of the Middle Age ennui comedy: henpecked husbands, retardedly juvenile behavior, and lots of silly pratfalls. Copeland also throws in a half-assed Seven Samurai riff that has the Wild Hogs saving a small town from an evil biker gang. This being the 21st Century, we also get examples of computer porno stymieing the over-40 crowd (give me a break; everyone in my age bracket knows damn well their fathers know how to work the Internet porn better than Bob Fucking Guccione) and a whole mess of gay panic.
Let’s touch on that one for a minute, shall we? I certainly don’t mind a gay joke or two. I think The 40-Year Old Virgin gave my brother and I enough ammunition to last until rapture. But there’s something creepy about how forcefully our heroes in this flick react to the “gay menace.” Not one opportunity is spared to “comically” paint these guys as gay: dancing together, sleeping together, being undressed together, and the well-accepted notion that four dudes going on a road trip together are really only after a cock lunch. Their default response—vehement and crazed denials that push past “The gentlemen doth protest too much” into a real fear and hate. You then factor in that the biggest fear expressed by the four is the threat of anal rape (from John C. McGinley’s traffic cop to the biker gang led by Ray Liotta), and you’ve got a harmless, middle-of-the-road comedy that maybe isn’t so harmless. Unfortunately, it’s the most memorable thing about this very unmemorable movie, and that’s Wild Hogs’ biggest offense.
As for the selling point of the flick, the relationship between the four leads, well…there really isn’t one. There’s no chemistry between the group—everyone seems to be behaving in their own independent space—and so they never really feel like longtime friends. Not that this is surprising; the combination of Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence, John Travolta, and William H. Macy is as bizarre and atonal a grouping since Remo Williams nailed Beatrix Kiddo in Henry and June. Of these, Allen and Lawrence fair best; they’re better used to limited (read: insipid) work like this. Travolta flails about enough to make you wonder how in the Wild World of Sports did he ever become popular, and Macy’s very presence does not compute. He doesn’t belong here, and his efforts to create a real performance out of the textbook nerd caricature he’s saddled with don’t ring true at all. If anything, they make him seem even more tragic. At least he gets with Marisa Tomei, who, as out of place as her character also is, has gotten even more striking as she’s gotten older.
Sadly, the same cannot be said for Ray Liotta.
Wild Hogs is so middle-of-the-road it’s practically the fucking median strip. There’s nothing surprising or original about it, and it makes my review somewhat moot; if movies like it are your thing, chances are you’ve already seen it. If you prefer something a little classier, I’m guessing you’ve seen Hot Fuzz and Knocked Up enough times to make up for this one. I can’t say it’s harmless—the gay panic stuff puts the flick in a bad place, and for that I must condemn it.
At least the flick looks and sounds good, but it’s new, so big whoop. Still, I doubt this’ll be one that you bring out to test the home theater with. The box is, I’m guessing, just the theatrical poster—the four stars standing in front of a motorcycle. It’s completely unremarkable, just like the flick it’s selling.
And the special features continue the trend! The commentary with Becker and Copeland is mostly boring and occasionally self-serving, but it’s already got strikes against it since I don’t care about the making of the film. The “Making Of” documentary is an EPK one, so no information there, either. The Motorcycle featurette isn’t a joke—it seriously sets about the pros and cons of buying a chopper. The deleted scenes were just more unfunny stuff cut from the flick, although at least the alternate ending gave John C. McGinley more work (and more money). And the outtakes? Not funny. Blown lines and much laughter trying to convince us of funny.
Other than the unpleasant and rampant homophobia, there’s nothing noteworthy of this film. I suppose Macy could be using it to pity-force David Mamet into writing him new material, but I doubt it. The disc looks and sounds fine, but the special features are as useless as the movie is. Skip it.