Movie Review: Wild Hogs
FILM REVIEW: WILD HOGS
By Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune Movie Critic
"Wild Hogs" is nuthin' but fumes, plus a roadside-urination montage. Is this the best we can do in the realm of star-driven commercial comedy? If so, I'll take "Norbit." I'll take "Because I Said So." I'll take "I'll Take Sweden."
Two compliments can be paid to "Wild Hogs." One: William H. Macy, playing a nerd who keeps running into things in unfunny ways, extracts a laugh or two from the material against all odds. He's like a miner panning for fool's gold after the other prospectors have moved to a different river.
The other virtue of "Wild Hogs" is that its plot can be explained in one sentence, which is helpful on the front end (the pitch meetings) as well as the hind end (the reviews). It's about four middle-aged Cincinnati guys who take a motorcycle trip west and encounter a Hell's Angels-type posse led by Ray Liotta, looking sour and why-am-I-here? enough to drink himself straight into a DUI.
"Headin' for the Pacific, and there ain't no plans!" says John Travolta's character, a hotshot businessman in financial trouble. It's the sole honest line. Director Walt Becker's half-hearted affair, taken from a quarter-hearted screenplay by Brad Copeland, proceeds without a plan, or a knack for broad comedy or any visible camaraderie among its four stars. At one point Tim Allen (playing a dentist married to Jill Hennessy) is supposed to be cheering on his plumber pal, Martin Lawrence, at a small-town carnival game. Allen couldn't look more distracted if he tried; barely glancing at his co-star, he appears to be on the verge of BlackBerrying his agent about the next project mid-scene.
This is a when-in-doubt script. When in doubt, light stuff on fire. (This happens twice.) When in doubt, amp up the homosexual-panic jokes. (John C. McGinley plays an ogling motorcycle cop who catches our skinny-dipping heroes - not so skinny, actually - in the buff, and in two scenes he undoes all the comic goodwill he built up in "Scrubs.") When in doubt, settle for the laziest pop-culture reference possible. Riding in on his "Easy Rider" image, Peter Fonda makes a cameo appearance and resolves the plot at roughly the same point he showed up in, of all things, "The Cannonball Run."
Macy's character finds romance with the Madrid, N.M., diner owner played by Marisa Tomei. They're the only two people on screen who relate in any way. But there's no movie here. There is only a tired "City Slickers"-inspired idea for a movie.
Directed by Walt Becker; screenplay by Brad Copeland; cinematography by Robbie Greenberg; edited by Christopher Greenbury and Stuart Pappe; production design by Michael Corenblith; music by Teddy Castellucci; produced by Mike Tollin, Brian Robbins and Todd Lieberman. A Touchstone Pictures release. Running time: 1:39. MPAA rating: PG-13 (for crude and sexual content, and some violence).
Doug Madsen - Tim Allen
Woody Stevens - John Travolta
Bobby Davis - Martin Lawrence
Dudley Frank - William H. Macy
Jack - Ray Liotta
Maggie - Marisa Tomei
Kelly - Jill Hennessy