Tim Allen .Doug Madsen
John Travolta Woody Stevens
Martin Lawrence ..Bobby Davis
William H. Macy ..Dudley Frank
Ray Liotta Jack
Marisa Tomei .Maggie
M.C. Gainey ..Murdock
Stephen Tobolowsky .Charley
Touchstone Pictures presents Wild Hogs. Written by Brad Copeland. Running time: 95 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for crude and sexual content, and some violence).
When I first read the premise of Wild Hogs, and saw the actors attached to star, I figured it was an animated movie. No way William H. Macy would appear in a live-action movie with the likes of Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence and John Travolta. Next to Chris Cooper he’s one of the best character actors on the planet and has an Academy Award nomination to boot. But less I forget so does John Travolta. This sweathog got a nom because he had insightful conversations about cheeseburgers and foot massages. Oh, he also broke out some dance moves with Uma Thurman on the dance floor. Again, he is afforded with the opportunity to add to his Dancing with the Stars audition reel. Unfortunately Uma isn’t his partner. It’s Macy. Zoiks.
A mid-life crisis times four, Wild Hogs is a silly comedy with buddies whose lives have become mundane. There’s Woody (John Travolta), a man who seemingly has it all: large house, a model for a wife, and a cell phone with lots of buttons. Doug’s (Tim Allen) a doctor, well, a dentist really. Happily married, he has a son who would rather play basketball with his best friend and his dad. Ouch. Bobby (Martin Lawrence) is the perpetual whipping boy in his house, where getting the third degree from his wife is almost like clockwork. Completing this foursome is Dudley (William H. Macy), a computer programmer who is a bit accident-prone. Even worse is that he’s probably never made it to third base with a woman.
Together, these friends pass the time each weekend riding their motorcycles and hanging out at a pre-fab biker bar. They try to act cool, but they are nothing more than a bunch of suburbanites with expensive hobbies. On the surface Woody maintains the appearance of a man who is living the good life. But his marriage is far from stable. More like the human equivalent of the S.S. Minnow on a three-hour tour. Completely broke with no life, he has nothing more to lose.
He convinces his friends to join him on a weeklong road trip. No wives or cell phones. Not a single luxury. Just four men straddling their hogs as they ride the open roads of America. Though, when you are middle-aged and have a klutz in tow, mishaps and accidents are bound to occur. Their biggest screw-up is tangling with the Del Fuegos, a Hells Angels-like motorcycle gang, and getting under the skin of the leader (a scene-chewing Ray Liotta). Such a screw-up makes the four friends take refuge in a small New Mexico town with the Del Fuegos hot on their tail.
Some might complain that the four leads don’t play it straight. This is true, but the goofiness of it all is what is most appealing. The gags are hit or miss I will admit. Jokes involving poop and fight sequences that seem choreographed by Hanna-Barbara are pretty pedestrian and are quickly forgotten about by the next scene.
With Tim Allen and Martin Lawrence as the two top-billed comedians you would expect the worse. Both have had some clunkers in recent years. Zoom, Christmas with the Kranks, Rebound. Need I go on? When you take into account their biggest successes came when they wore fat suits, one a jolly fat guy, the other a Big Momma, that’s when eyes start to roll and heads shake. And if you take their comic pitfalls and put them in a movie from the director of National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, well, then, you’re just asking for trouble.
But if you look beyond the two members of the box office poison club, you have a pretty decent cast. Heck, even Allen and Lawrence have moments worth giggling at. Since they don’t have the burden of carrying a picture. Ray Liotta is back in the spotlight again after a long absence. Funny, his greatest film Goodfellas concluded with him being indoctrinated into the witness protection program, but that was just acting, right? Now he has started 2007 on a roll, having played an FBI agent in the Tarantino-esque Smokin’ Aces and now as a beer-swilling biker with a bone to pick.
Despite the surprising return of Ray Liotta, as well as Marisa Tomei who hasn’t done anything memorable since 2001, it is Travolta and Macy who have the most fun. Travolta is so at ease that you would think he gulps some magical Scientology juice in between takes. It could be his character, though. Not having much left to lose, he is free to let it all hang out. That’s a metaphor; the literal meaning is for Macy who gives the audience some unwarranted backside nudity. Got to leave the ladies clamoring for more.
Or let them shudder in fear.
FINAL RATING (ON A SCALE OF 1-5 BUCKETS):