“Wild Hogs” is about throwing off the shackles of everyday life for the freedom of the open road. At least that’s what it’s supposed to be. In reality, this film is a predictable, generic comedy whose only redeeming quality is its big-name stars.
The film centers on four middle-aged men who would never be friends in real life: Dudley (William H. Macy, “Fargo”), Doug (Tim Allen, “The Santa Clause”), Woody (John Travolta, “Face/Off”) and Bobby (Martin Lawrence, “Big Momma’s House”) who have all settled into comfortable but unfulfilling lives. Soon the unbearable torture of their suburban existence becomes too much, and Woody proposes a road trip to the others as a chance to reclaim their lost glory. In an effort to appear like authentic bikers, they name themselves the “Wild Hogs” – and even have Doug’s wife sew emblems onto their leather jackets. Talk about cool.
They then set out on the open road, after dramatically breaking their cell phones in a gesture to symbolize freedom. At this point, the movie’s only joke – middle-aged suburban dads riding motorcycles – gets tiring. There are far too many long stretches in which the four men coast on their bikes through open fields while the soundtrack plays hit songs of the past, representing freedom, or something like that.
Crazy mishaps abound (accidentally burning down their tent, skinny-dipping in a pond), each less funny than the last. Eventually the Wild Hogs stroll into an evil biker bar run by Jack (Ray Liotta, “Narc”), a “real” biker. And after Woody accidentally blows up the bar, Jack promptly sets out to kill them.
An hour into the film, Dudley finds a love interest in the form of Maggie (Marisa Tomei, “My Cousin Vinny”). She serves no real purpose except to stand around, look pretty and care a lot about her diner. Why she would go for Dudley, an awkward computer geek who can barely hold a conversation with a female, is a mystery, but so much of this movie is already incomprehensible that it remains the least of our worries.
Naturally the men stand up to Jack and his gang of big, bad bikers and also eventually realize . something. The film never quite makes it clear what the lesson to learn here is. Of course, the real lesson for everyone involved in this film, audience included, should be to avoid formulaic comedies at all costs.
At Quality 16 and Showcase