What started as a gay-joke laced Tim Allen comedy quickly turned into a disastrous problem-laden situation comedy which fell into the age old trap of seriousness. When the conflict is too colossal, the only solution is nonsense. A variegated cast and an unrealistically neat and tidy conclusion make this wannabe feel-good movie second-class salvage.
Four middle-aged friends (Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, and William H. Macy) reach a midlife crisis in which they are bored with their everyday routines and threadbare family activities. Having a tradition of going to the local bar, riding motorcycles and wearing black leather adorned with a fictitious “Wild Hogs” gang logo, the lot decide to go on a road trip. Taking in the sights and the fresh air, they encounter a licentious policeman, a barbarous “real” biker gang and an abundance of adventure in the peaceful chile-loving town of Madrid, New Mexico. (CLICK HERE TO READ MIKE’S FULL THEATRICAL REVIEW)
The overriding theme in Wild Hogs is to keep getting back up, no matter what your age is. Not even critical condemnation could stop this rag-tag group of comedic dinosaurs on two wheels. The film resonated with older audiences and repeat business skyrocketed the picture to the top. Now on DVD, Wild Hogs rides home in style, but not even its flashy, embossed packaging can truly cover up the faults that plague the film.
Complete with a surprisingly substantial “Making of” segment, Wild Hogs does do its fair share of self congratulatory bits, but it actually offers some insight into the making of the film too. During the segment, the film’s stunt coordinator reflected on each of the four principle actor’s experience with learning to ride motorcycles. While Travolta and Allen handled their choppers with ease, things didn’t bode as well for Lawrence and Macy. The actors had to start from scratch, learning how to ride in a pack. Lawrence was terrified of the bike, while Macy had to practice looking as if he were out of control while still being in control.
The feature also broke down the film’s biggest special effect, the explosion of the Del Feugo’s biker bar. Rather than just showing the moments leading up to the blast, the segment starts in the wee early hours of the morning, briefly showing some preparation. It is a nice touch to actually see some of the hard, monotonous work and prep leading up to the big pay-off.
The disc also sports a gimmicky feature, “How to Get Your Wife to Buy You a Motorcycle”. The advice offered is rather generic and in my particular case it would never result in me hitting the open road on a Harley. Aside from this throwaway segment, Wild Hogs features an alternate ending, which turns to a recurring joke that had already gone to the well one too many times, decidedly unfunny deleted scenes and outtakes, which are highlighted by Travolta showcasing his dance moves and accidentally falling asleep.
Luckily Walt Becker and Brad Copeland offer a better than average, back and forth commentary about the film that filled their pockets with oodles of cash. Becker, who bought and sold Harleys to help put him through college, knew they had a hit on their hands early in preproduction. Becker recalled the time when he left a dinner meeting with the four stars of Wild Hogs and patrons of the restaurant ran up to the actors asking what project they were all working on, proclaiming that they would kill to see it.
With his four A-list actors as drawing power, Becker and Copeland worked on the script right up to production. As Mike perceived in his review, there was some difficulty over the third act of Wild Hogs. Not only did the studio force Becker to trim down Tim Allen’s big stunt, but they butted heads repeatedly over how to get the foursome out of their tight predicament. The end result, which ties things up a little too easily, wasn’t even finalized until that day of shooting thanks to some last minute improvisation on the actor’s part.
Simple, yet commercially successful, there is a distinct charm to the characters Allen, Travolta, Lawrence and Macy created. Their star power and the midlife crisis storyline seemed to be enough to attract older audiences to the box-office and the flashy DVD will likely continue the success of Wild Hogs. While it may be painfully mediocre for the film enthusiast, Wild Hogs is sure to rev the engine of general audiences looking for mindless escapism.
-Joe Russo (www.MoviePulse.net)