Attempting to add some excitement to their lives, four middle-aged friends embark on a motorcycle road trip and end up with more than they bargained for in Wild Hogs, a very funny comedy starring John Travolta, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence and William H. Macy. Hilarious mayhem ensues during their misadventures, especially when these wannabe bikers fight the notorious Del Fuego motorcycle gang in an effort to save a little New Mexico town. Unexpected romance, amusing pratfalls and comic performances combine to make Wild Hogs a rollicking good time at the movies.
Director Walt Becker (National Lampoon's Van Wilder) deserves kudos for his insightful handling of this comedy. As soon as he read the script, Becker wanted in. “It was a story that was not only very funny but hit very close to home,” he declares. Becker’s father went on a trip quite similar to the one taken by the characters in Wild Hogs. “He was a Baptist minister and now he had a pierced ear and a skull bandana!” Becker explains. Trying their best to look like tough bikers, the movie’s main characters wear leather jackets with a “Wild Hogs” insignia on the back -- and I also might have spotted a couple of those skull bandanas!
Acting as the self-appointed leader of the pack, Woody (Travolta) exudes a swaggering bravado that makes him resemble the real thing. His friends think he is a confident and successful businessman with a great life, but Woody has problems he’s hiding from them. Doug (Allen), once so daring he was called “The Golden Knight,” now practices dentistry and gets no respect from his wife (Jill Hennessy, my TV Crossing Jordan favorite) and son. Bobby (Lawrence), whose wife (Tchina Arnold) nags him constantly, works as a plumber but wants to be a writer. Rounding out the Wild Hogs group is Dudley (Macy), a shy and klutzy computer programmer. All four men feel important only when they bike together as the Wild Hogs.
Surprisingly, there’s no upstaging going on here among the film’s famous co-stars. Travolta takes a back seat until shining in scenes showing how eager his character has become to stay ahead of the Del Fuegos and their violent leader (Ray Liotta, absolutely terrific in this mercurial role); Allen mostly re-acts to the others throughout, giving them more opportunities to be spotlighted; Lawrence saves his best work for a confrontation with his character’s spouse at the end of the movie; and Macy doesn’t overdo his comical slapstick part as the nerd who finally gets a girlfriend, played by Oscar-winner Marisa Tomei (My Cousin Vinny), believe it or not.
The classic motorcycle films Easy Rider and The Wild One zoomed their way into cinema history, but Wild Hogs -- with its lighthearted emphasis on male bonding during the dreaded midlife-crisis stage -- is definitely a lot more fun to watch.
DVD bonus items include: "Bikes, Brawls and Burning Bars," a making-of featurette that demonstrates why this movie turned out to be so entertaining; an alternate ending; deleted scenes; tips on how to get your wife to let you buy a motorcycle; and audio commentary by writer Brad Copeland and director Walt Becker -- who just happens to know a lot about motorcycles.
(Released by Touchstone Home Entertainment and rated “PG-13” for crude and sexual content, and some violence.)
Listen to the ReelTalk Radio Show discussion of Wild Hogs by clicking here.