Wild Hogs Review

Woody (John Travolta), Doug (Tim Allen), Bobby (Martin Lawrence) and Dudley (William H Macy) are four pals from Cincinnati, Ohio who have hung out together since they were kids. In their forties now and living quiet lives in the suburbs, they're starting to feel old and boring. Doug is embarassed that his son thinks he's "lame", shy Dudley is single and lonely, Bobby is hen-pecked and Woody (unknown to the others) is bankrupt and about to get divorced.

At the weekends, the guys escape from their lives with their shared hobby: motorcycling. Specifically, they like to dress up in black leather, ride their Harley Davidsons and pretend they're born to be wild. However, the Cincinnati Hell's Angel scene, complete with ridiculous theme bar, is starting to look a little fake, even to them. To cure their despondency, Bobby proposes a road trip. The four of them will ride to the West Coast together and experience the real thrill of the open highway.

Like last week's Blades Of Glory, Wild Hogs starts with a solid comedy premise but unfortunately this film doesn't get nearly as much mileage out of it. Screenwriter Brad Copeland, who's worked in TV till now, simply borrows the basic structure of City Slickers (a group of friends having mid-life crises go on an adventure) and his writing rarely gets beyond the most obvious, sitcom-level humour. The guys fall off their bikes a lot and people keep thinking they're gay. The lack of imagination and strict adherence to formula is a little deadening.

What saves Wild Hogs to some extent is its cast. The four leads have a nice chemistry. You believe these guys are friends and when the script takes a turn for the dramatic, it's more involving than it ought to be because you like them. John Travolta, Tim Allen and Martin Lawrence are all better than the film deserves, though it's William H Macy who steals the show. He elevates his computer nerd turned biker to a level of comedy way above the rest of the material. There are also nice supporting performances by Ray Liotta as a pissed-off Hell's Angel and Stephen Tobolowsky as a small-town sheriff. If only they'd been given more to work with, this film might really have been something.

A couple of observations:

(1) If you do see Wild Hogs, don't leave as soon as the end titles begin. There's a lovely coda running through the credits that's funnier and more inspired than anything that's gone before it.

(2) Wild Hogs is being heavily promoted and I found it a bit distracting how many of the lines from the trailers and TV ads don't actually appear in the film.



out of 10

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