Review by Jack Foley
JOHN Travolta is no stranger to making films that don’t work (as Battlefield Earth and Be Cool testify) but Wild Hogs has to rate as one of his biggest disappointments.
On the surface, the film seems to offer a winning formula given its strong cast (William H Macy, Ray Liotta, Tim Allen, etc) and impressive writing credentials (Brad Copeland of My Name Is Earl and Arrested Development fame). But while it was undoubtedly fun to film, it’s not nearly as enjoyable to watch.
The film plays out like a bikers’ version of City Slickers without half as many laughs. Travolta, Allen, Macy and Martin Lawrence play four life-long friends who attempt to fend off a mid-life crisis by hopping on their Harley Davisons and hitting the open road in search of carefree adventure.
But their good time is compromised by the unwanted attentions of a gay local sheriff (John C McGinley) and a ruthless gang of bikers, the Del Fuegos (led by Ray Liotta), who take offence at their presence and eventually threaten the peace and tranquility of the small town they find themselves in.
Sadly, laughs are thin on the ground (most revolve around middle-age insecurity and macho endeavour), characters lack much interest and there’s even a homophobic element about some of the more uneasy sexual references.
Travolta over-acts hysterically when trying to tap into the angst of his character, Lawrence is content to be the butt of countless jokes (a lot of which involve colour), and Allen is pretty much on auto-pilot as the frustrated dentist in need of a few life risks.
Of the four heroes only Macy emerges with his reputation intact by generating what few laughs there are from his hapless endeavours and attempts to win over Marisa Tomei’s alluring small-town waitress. But even Liotta resorts to trotting out another of his stereotypical psychos and basically re-hashes all of his most menacing turns.
Anyone who knows anything about motorbikes and movies should be able to guess who supplies the “surprise” guest appearance at the end of the movie.
Come the feel-good conclusion where everyone learns a valuable life lesson, audiences will probably be scratching their heads pondering how a film with so much potential ended up being such a pig.
Running time: 99mins