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Wild Hogs
Director: Walt Becker
Screenplay: Brad Copeland
Stars: Tim Allen (Doug Madsen), John Travolta (Woody Stevens), Martin Lawrence (Bobby Davis), William H. Macy (Dudley Frank), Ray Liotta (Jack), Marisa Tomei (Maggie), Kevin Durand (Red), M.C. Gainey (Murdock), Jill Hennessy (Kelly Madsen), Dominic Janes (Billy Madsen), Tichina Arnold (Karen Davis)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Year of Release: 2007
Country: U.S.
Wild Hogs
Wild Hogs In Wild Hogs, four men facing various facets of Comfortably Wealthy American Male Midlife Crisis Syndrome head out on their Harleys for the open road to reclaim their freedom and virility. While I don't think this is what Steppenwolf had in mind when they sang in the opening lines of “Born to Be Wild” that we should get our motor runnin', head out on the highway, and look for adventure, for a high-concept Hollywood comedy, it'll do. Unfortunately, while Wild Hogs aims to be City Slickers with chrome and leather, it gets too deeply mired in stale homophobic gags and cookie-cutter redemption to offer much more than mild amusement.

However, credit must be given to director Walt Becker (National Lampoon's Van Wilder) and his casting agent for landing a diverse group of lead actors. From the straight comedy end of things we get Tim Allen as Doug, a suburban dentist who worries that he has become boring and, as a result, gets no respect from his young son, and Martin Lawrence as Bobby, a henpecked plumber who aspires to writing self-help books. From the more dramatic end we get John Travolta as Woody, a big-shot businessman who has just lost his supermodel wife and all of his money, and William H. Macy as Dudley, a bespectacled computer programmer who never matured past the junior-high stage of fearing the opposite sex. They're an unlikely group of buddies, except that they're all unhappy with their current places in life.

So, what to do but form a pseudo-motorcycle gang called The Wild Hogs and head out on the open road for a weeklong, 2,000-mile trip to California to find adventure and reclaim their flagging masculinity? Go west, middle-age man! The only problem is that they keep finding themselves in situations that make them look gay, which is, of course, the last thing they want. So, being discovered by a highway patrolman (John C. McGinley) snuggled up together in their sleeping bags and having a conversation that, when filtered just right, makes them sound really gay poses one dilemma, which is quickly solved by the patrolman revealing that he's the one who's gay. Which, of course, presents a new dilemma.

Their manhood is really tested, though, when they crossed paths with the Del Fuegos, a menacing motorcycle gang--the “real deal”--led by Ray Liotta's Jack, who doesn't take kindly to suburban “poseurs” adopting their look. Thankfully, the presence of the Del Fuegos shifts the story away from all the tired gay panic and instead settles on the good ol' fashioned fear of having one's guts stomped out by a much larger, hairier, and tattooed man with anger-management issues. When the Wild Hogs take refuge in a small town, whose residents believe them to be their saviors from the Del Fuegos, you start to feel that writer Doug Copeland has stopped pilfering from City Slickers (1991) and has instead fixated on The Three Amigos! (1985). The climax provides a ready-made showdown in which the four emasculated suburbanites can firmly stand their ground, and each gets his own variation of redemption in the end, whether it be Bobby finally standing up to his wife or Dudley getting to make out with Marisa Tomei.

While it isn't a very good movie, I can see why many people enjoyed Wild Hogs. It has enough amusing moments to keep its momentum up, and it plays with a real sense of energy. Wild Hogs was a surprise hit last spring, mainly because it appealed directly to an audience of middle-age males who are often left out of the Hollywood equation that leans so heavily on adolescent-minded blockbusters and calculated counterprogramming usually aimed at the fairer sex. Wild Hogs gives them, for better or for worse, characters with whom they can identify, which means they can laugh at themselves without, you know, actually laughing at themselves.

Wild Hogs DVD
Wild Hogs is also available in a Blu-Ray edition.
Aspect Ratio2.35:1
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround
  • SubtitlesFrench, Spanish
  • Audio commentary by director Walt Becker and writer Brad Copeland
  • “Bikes, Brawls, and Burning Bars: The Making of Wild Hogs” featurette
  • “How to Get Your Wife to Let You Buy a Motorcycle” featurette
  • Alternate ending
  • Deleted scenes
  • Outtakes
  • DistributorTouchstone Home Entertainment
    Release DateAugust 14, 2007

    The widescreen anamorphic transfer of Wild Hogs is clean, crisp, and well detailed. The New Mexico locations that form the film's backdrop look beautiful throughout, and colors are bright and lively without ever looking unnatural. The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack does what it needs to do, pumping up the soundtrack's heavy reliance on classic rock tunes and ensuring that the roars of the motorcycle engines envelope us completely.
    The screen-specific audio commentary by director Walt Becker and writer Brad Copeland is amusing at times, although it is has some long silences and a general lack of depth. They do tell some good stories about the film's production, virtually all of which was done on-location in New Mexico. “Bikes, Brawls, and Burning Bars: The Making of Wild Hogs” is a 16-minute making-of featurette that includes plenty of behind-the-scenes footage (including some great stuff involving the destruction of the bar) and interviews with Becker, Copeland, actors John Travolta, Tim Allen, William H. Macy, and Martin Lawrence (who, we find out, wasn't comfortable riding the motorcycle), and stunt coordinator Jack Gill. Gill also appears in “How to Get Your Wife to Let You Buy a Motorcycle, ” a 3-minute featurette in which he explains, well, how to get your wife to let you buy a motorcycle (he also discusses how to look good in leather). There are also two very short deleted bits and an alternate ending that brings back John C. McGinley's cop (all with optional commentary by Becker and Copeland) and two and a half minutes of outtakes.

    Overall Rating: (2)

    Thoughts? E-mail James Kendrick

    All images copyright © Touchstone Home Entertainment

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