The open road and wide vistas in which city dwellers long to lose (and find) themselves have rarely looked sadder than in Wild Hogs. Virtually self-reflexive in its high-concept baldness (“It’s City Slickers with choppers,” in The Player-speak), Walt Becker’s rancid midlife-crisis “comedy” seems serenely unperturbed by the grand canyon between the least likable protagonists in recent memory and the audience-tested need to impose redemption onto them. When said protagonists—dentist Doug (Tim Allen), ruined businessman Woody (John Travolta), token black guy Bobby (Martin Lawrence), and neo-Ned Flanders geek Dudley (William H. Macy)—decide to act on their menopausal laments and ditch their Cincinnati suburban straitjackets for biker leather, there’s a strong temptation to stay behind with their emasculating wives. But no, the trajectory is the old find-your-smile (or, here, find-your-balls) chestnut, so it’s off to the highway for slapsticky, sloppily-edited soul-searching as the guys head west on their Harleys, complete with perfunctory stops for danger (Ray Liotta’s snarling badass) and romance (Marisa Tomei’s comely waitress). For a picture so eminently forgettable, Wild Hogs nevertheless leaves behind a welter of nagging impressions. Few other films have offered such a disconnected ensemble—the feeling of camaraderie between the puffy stars playing high-school colleagues is so sparse as to suggest a cast of digital constructs rattling in a vacuum. And not since Without a Paddle have so many homo-horror gags hit the screen—it takes less than 15 minutes for Travolta to nearly bitchslap Macy for smelling his cologne, and less than half an hour for the friends to be found spooning in the forest by a “hilarious” faggot highway patrolman (John C. McGinley). (The gay-panic jokes are so unimaginative that, when the tenacious Kyle Gass pops up to sing the Pussycat Dolls’ “Don’t Cha” at a New Mexico chili festival, it’s like a Preston Sturges moment.) Only the shit jokes, porn-website jokes, and a gloomy Peter Fonda cameo separate this from the usual Tim Allen family-values pap, but the results are just as retrograde.
- Touchstone Pictures
- 99 min
- Walt Becker
- Brad Copeland
- Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, William H. Macy, Ray Liotta, Marisa Tomei, Kevin Durant, M.C. Gainey, Jill Hennessy, Dominic James, Tichina Arnold, Stephen Tobolowsky, Jason Skylar, Randy Skylar, Drew Sinora, John C. McGinley
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