Wild Hogs

Wild Hogs

*

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Wild Hogs is going to excite middle aged men, trapped in marriages and mortgages, aching for the freedom of the road. Be warned. This is not the genuine article.

Buddies on bikes fit neatly into a midlife crisis comedy, where fat blokes attempt to reconnect with their thin selves and be seen as cool by kids, whoever and wherever they might hang. Although pathetic in the extreme, there is potential for dark ageist satire, cruelly puncturing the vanity and futility of fortysomethings, who still feel the reverberations of unexpurgated teenage irresponsibility in their docile loins.

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Wild Hogs is so tame it ends up in a picture postcard New Mexican village – not a Mexican in sight – where the sheriff (Stephen Tobolowsky) is as limp as sliced white and the girl who owns the diner (Marisa Tomei) can’t find a fella, because she’s too attractive, until Dudley (William H Macy), the shy computer geek, who is scared of women, rides into town.

The four Hogs are from Cincinnati, with good jobs and wives (two of them), who dress up in leathers and take their expensive motor bikes out for a spin whenever commitments allow. Woody (John Travolta), the lawyer with a model girlfriend, is their leader because he talks the loudest about being “wild and free” and taking a week off for a road trip – no maps, no cell phones, just the wind and the wide open spaces (accompanied by an easy listening soundtrack, naturally).

Their adventures are the kind John Candy would have had fun with – camping equipment fiascos, interaction with an aggravated bull, skinny dipping in a popular swimming hole – but he is no longer with us sadly and these guys don’t begin to match up. Tim Allen, as a comfortable suburban dentist, is his usual genial self; Martin Lawrence has never been funny and isn’t going to start now; Travolta’s performance is bizarre, some might call it embarrassing; Macy works hard with the least fruitful material and manages (almost) to create a real person.

John C McGinley (Dr Cox in Scrubs), as a gay cop, raises hopes on the hilarity front, but doesn’t stay around long enough to make a difference. Ray Liotta’s tattooed biker is full of menace and scrunched up expletives. His gang, The Del Fuegoes, is the hard element, out to teach these weekend phonies that no one messes with true knights of the road.

Buried deep in the psyche of insecure men who answer the call, “Do you ever wake up and wonder what happened to your life?”, is a definition of failure, which exposes cracks in the American dream. Of course, you won’t get any of this here. Wild Hogs reflects Hollywood's attitude towards entertainment, without understanding that star names and a sound-bit scenario requires writers who know about comedy to make the thing fly. Brad Copeland, the Hogs’ personalised gagster, thinks homophobia is still cutting edge and violent destruction, preferably with explosions, will somehow resurrect memories of The Blues Brothers.

Reviewed on: 09 Apr 2007
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A road trip for middle-aged, middle-class, middle-minded bikers.
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