Wild Hogs Review
Wild Hogs Doug (Tim Allen), Woody (John Travolta), Bobby (Martin Lawrence) and Dudley (William H Macy) have little going for them outside of their evenings spent riding their Harleys around Cincinnati. Dentist Doug hasn't been outside of Cincinnati in twelve years, is on a green-leaf diet due to high cholesterol. Woody's marriage is failing and thanks to a habit of spending beyond his means, he's also broke. Henpecked Bobby's year off to write a how-to book has come to an end, leaving him back cleaning toilets for a living - a cordoned-off bathroom in a petrol station is his 9am appointment - while geek Dudley has missed out of love and life. And he has a habit of falling off his Harley, which is a very poor showing for this very poor biker.
Then Woody has an plan to stave off a mid-life crisis...a road trip from Cincinnati to the west coast. The wide open spaces beckon, the bikes are filled up with gas and having smashed their mobile phones on the road, Doug, Woody, Bobby and Dudley leave for the Pacific. But weekend warriors aren't suited to the real biker gangs that await them in New Mexico and when they stop off at a bar owned by the Del Fuegos, they learn just how unwelcome they are...
And they are very unwelcome indeed. Led by Jack (Ray Liotta) and assisted by Murdock (MC Gainey) and Red (Kevin Durand) - "When we drink piss, we drink cold piss!" he says, pouring a glass of warm beer over a man - the Del Fuegos are not happy to see the Wild Hogs walk into their bar. With Liotta and company carrying on a fine movie tradition of making newcomers feel uncomfortable - jukebox grinds to a halt, conversation stops and Liotta sits down amongst Allen, Travolta and Lawrence to crack jokes at their expense - the stage is set for conflict between the four Wild Hogs and the actually-lots-more-wild Del Fuegos. Granted, in the real world, they'd be shot, buggered and buried in the desert - perhaps in that order, perhaps not - but here it's a good, old-fashioned fistfight, balsa wood chairs smashed over heads and bikers kicking one another in the nuts. All that it's missing is Time Allen sliding down a freshly-polished bar and crashing into bottles of root beer and whiskey.
It takes a hard heart not to like Travolta. That's taking into account his somewhat erratic choice of material. He remains a movie star, though, with all that he does well, even dancing, being allowed a minute or two in the spotlight. Macy and Allen - Allen has the advantage of having the voice of Buzz Lightyear playing opposite a character named Woody - are likewise with Martin Lawrence actually proving himself capable of being both funny (and a little charming), not least when he's called on to go bull-slapping. Marisa Tomei, who, even more than Travolta, has been let down by her choice of material, is back to the kind of light comedy of My Cousin Vinny and Only You while there's a very fine cameo by Kyle Gass as the entertainment at a chili fair.
This is an amiable, likeable movie with some laughs and a lovely setting in the New Mexico town of Madrid, where the Wild Hogs get to rest their middle-aged bones and William H Macy finds love with Marisa Tomei. Macy delivers the pratfalls with his inability to stay on his bike while John C McGinley, as a gay motorbike cop, comes up with more homosexual gags than the film can actually carry, joining them for a nude swim while, in the alternate ending, setting off in pursuit of the Wild Hogs have declared them guilty of, "DWI...Driving While Irresistable!" However, the best of Wild Hogs comes with the arrival of Peter Fonda, who allows the writer a way to wriggle out of an ending that would otherwise have seen the Wild Hogs punching out Ray Liotta, MC Gainey and fifty other bikers. Seeing Tomei and Macy together is one thing - as unlikely a love affair as has ever been cast - but the fairy-soft hands of Allen, Travolta, Lawrence and Macy beating down fifty Del Feugos? Not in this life. Nor the next.
An enjoyable film for a Friday night when it's perfectly able to shoo away the pressures of the week's work with its join-the-dots plotting, it may not be quite so well-liked six months from now. In one's first viewing, it's bull-slapping, fist fighting, motorbiking and knockabout fun, if not fresh, then has the odd wasn't-expecting-that laugh. A second viewing proves to be a less amusing experience. And so on I would assume but having only watched it twice, it's hard to say, with any authority, what might happen on a third or fourth viewing. Perhaps there are moments that would surprise even those who have grown tired of even the very finest comedy. Although, perhaps not.
Wild Hogs could have looked very ordinary - indeed, I would have expected it to do so - but it looks rather good. The colours, even the dusty greys and blacks of the Del Fuegos, are rich and the brightness is just so but what's best about this DVD release is the sharpness of the picture. Wild Hogs looks very clear throughout with the long views over the midwestern United States giving good reason why the Wild Hogs would have wanted to leave their Cincinnati homes in the first place even with forewarning about the Del Feugos. Buena Vista have prepared the DVD from a print that's free of any faults, leaving this a very decent DVD presentation.
The DD5.1 audio track is also very good. Granted, there isn't very much that happens in it beyond the growl of Harley Davidson motorbikes but it comes to life both then and on the hard rock - Who Do You Love (Thorogood), Highway To Hell and Slow Ride - that appears on the soundtrack. The sound of passing motorbikes does prove that the rear channels and subwoofer are being used - there's little evidence of them other than that - but the accompanying music may be the very best thing about the film. There's so much Allman Brothers that it just about makes up for all the Bon Jovi. Finally, there are English, Spanish and French subtitles throughout, not only the main feature but also the Commentary. However, the bonus features are only subtitled in English.
Audio Commentary: Director Walt Becker and writer Brad Copeland are together for this track in which they talk up one another's contributions to Wild Hogs, their choice of actors and their film. So highly do they praise Wild Hogs that one wonders if they're actually talking about an entirely different film. But no, they're extraordinarily proud of their film and while there are some good anecdotes, particularly the semi-docile bull that caused havoc on the set and amongst the actors, this is a fairly ordinary listen lit by the occasional moment of comedy.
Bikes, Brawls and Burning Bars (16m19s): By another name, this is the making of Wild Hogs and features Walt Becker walking and talking the viewer through several scenes in the film, notably the blowing up of the Del Fuegos' bar, and the background to the production. The actors are also interviewed, spending their time praising one another, not least comedians Allen and Lawrence praising actors Travolta and Macy for their sense of comedy, but the real interest of this feature is in its fiery bombing of the bar, which we see in detail, from it still standing to it being nothing more than charred balsa wood, ash and a lingering smell of petrol.
How To Get Your Wife To Let You Buy A Motorcycle (2m49s): "Wife! I'm buying a motorbike!" Is that not it? Well, should you be unfortunate enough not to be the one who wears the trousers, then this buying guide explains the how and why of being allowed to purchase a motorbike, particularly a Harley.
Finally, there are some Outtakes (2m34s) and a few Deleted Scenes (2m49s), which includes an Alternate Ending that sees John C McGinley catches up with the Wild Hogs on their way west. Look carefully and there's also an Easter Egg (1m35s) starring Paul Teutel Sr. and Jr. of Orange County Choppers and American Chopper.