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WILD HOGS

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, William H. Macy, Marisa Tomei, Jill Hennessy, Ray Liotta
Director: Walt Becker
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Touchstone
Features: See Review
Length: 100 Minutes
Release Date: August 14, 2007

“Thanks, Woody. I feel really safe with you.”

“I noticed that. And if you EVER lay your head on my back again when you’re riding bitch, I’ll throw you into traffic!”

Film **1/2

Wild Hogs was one of the first big box office hits of 2007, and it’s easy to see why. Any comedy with massive star appeal is going to attract attention at the cinema especially if marketed right, which this movie certainly was. And although I laughed quite a bit during the movie, the overall premise of the movie has been tirelessly done before in countless other comedies.

Think City Slickers on bikes, and you should get an idea of what to expect. In this particular case, four bike riding pals, who dub themselves the “wild hogs”, decide to take a break from their frustrating lives and just hit the open road for a cross country bike ride. You can practically smell the fish-out-of-water formula developing right then and there.

But regardless, these four guys are in desperate need of a break. Woody (John Travolta) is going through a messy divorce that’s about to make him bankrupt. Doug (Tim Allen) is a dentist tired of living by life’s rules. Bobby (Martin Lawrence) is an aspiring writer/emergency sewage worker whose wife is driving him nuts. And then there’s Dudley (William H. Macy) a computer geek who has bad luck with just about everything, including riding bikes.

So the boys then hit the road, and trouble ensues almost right from the start. If they are colliding with nature on the freeway, they are caught in certain situations that make them appear gay. Now this kind of joke may be as old as the hills, but somehow in this movie they make for enormously funny moments. Such scenes like the one where the guys decide to fearlessly go skinny dipping in what turns out to be a family water park are howlers!

In fact, there are many laughs in the film but there is hardly anything resembling a plot to hold the laughs together. For about the first 45 minutes, the movie is basically a series of mishaps with the gang in whatever town they come across. But then an actual story gets going as the Hogs find themselves the enemy of a rival biker gang called the Del Fuegos, led by a maniac named Jack (Ray Liotta).

And the movie also throws in a tender subplot involving the dimwitted Dudley falling head over heels in love. He is smitten with Maggie (Marisa Tomei), the owner of a small town diner. It leads to a very funny scene where the two dance at a county fair; with Macy doing a dance that has to be seen to be believed. On a side note, I’m happy to note that Ms. Tomei still looks incredibly hot in her 40s, maybe hotter than she ever has.

If there’s one thing that can be said about Wild Hogs, it’s that the cast is having a lot of fun. Normally if a screwball comedy happens to have a cast of big names, it usually leads to some seriously phoned in performances. Not here, as Travolta, Allen, Lawrence and Macy all bring their comedy game to this project with shining results. And Ray Liotta seems to be having a blast poking fun at his own persona with a wildly over the top performance. You know that intense raging laugh that Liotta seems to incorporate in each of his performances? Well he seems to end every line of dialogue with that cackling laugh, which I found hysterical since no one can laugh like that except Ray Liotta.

So I am in the mix on Wild Hogs. It’s certainly nothing spectacular or groundbreaking, but if it’s laughs you want, you will certainly get many of them here. But in a year where I found many more laughs in such better fare as Hot Fuzz, Hot Rod and The Ex, this one pales a bit in comparison.

As long as you don’t set your expectations high, you’ll have a really good time.

Video ****

This is one spectacular looking release from Disney/Touchstone. The anamorphic picture is nothing but that of a crisp and brightly colorful picture from beginning to end. The outdoor settings play a big part in the awesome picture quality. And the color quality is nothing short of astounding! Outstanding all the way!

Audio ***1/2

With an endless amount of physical comedy and rock jams you come to expect in a motorcycle road comedy, the 5.1 mix has a lot to work with. Dialogue delivery is terrifically clear and music playback is at a high level.

Features ***

Included on the disc is a commentary track with director Walt Becker and screenwriter Brad Copeland, two featurettes; “Bikes, Brawls And Burning Bars: The Making Of Wild Hogs” and  “How To Get Your Wife To Let You Buy A Motorcycle”. Also featured are Deleted Scenes, an Alternate Ending, Outtakes and several Bonus Previews for additional Buena Vista releases.

Summary:

Wild Hogs serves up enough hilarity and all around fun, as long as you just don’t expect a lot out of it in terms of originality. It’s predictable screwball comedy at its highest. Not the best comedy I’ve seen this year, but CERTAINLY not the worst (Norbit anyone?)

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