Wild Hogs (2007)

Untitled-1A comedy that can make me laugh is a successful comedy, even if its story is nonsense and its characters are one-dimensional cardboard cutouts. A couple of the Scary Movies work for me because they’re funny, and they don’t take themselves seriously at all. I have no shame in admitting that. Comedy, after all, is one of the most subjective genres; you either laugh, or you don’t. And if you don’t, it doesn’t mean the movie’s bad. It just means it’s not your cup of tea.

Wild Hogs is the kind of movie that lets you laugh, and enjoy laughing. The laughs carry the story, because quite honestly, there isn’t much of one. Four friends — they call themselves the Wild Hogs — decide to ride their troubles away in a cross-country road trip. The twist is that they are four everyday men masquerading as bikers. Or it could be the other way around. I’m not fussy. There’s a dentist, Doug (Tim Allen); an emasculated husband, Bobby (Martin Lawrence); a loser computer geek, Dudley (William H. Macy); and a wealthy whatever-he-is, Woody (John Travolta). Each of them have something in their lives to be unhappy about. They meet up every week dressed in their biker gear (leather jackets, bandanas, sunglasses, what have you) for a pint of beer and a catch up with the dudes from “American Chopper”. All is good, until Woody breaks down and demands the road trip.

Voila! They’re off. Four middle-aged dudes riding across the country. No maps, no GPS, no cellphones. Just them and the open road. What geniuses. A part of me wished they would fall into a crack somewhere and get their limbs trapped under boulders. That oughta teach them a lesson. They burn down their one and only tent on the first night too, and end up waking up next to each other on one inflatable mattress in positions that I can only describe as homo-erotically suggestive. This scene makes for the appearance of John C. McGinley as an uber gay police officer who does the creepy thing by suggesting a groupsome, and then follows the gang secretively.

But the bliss is not to last. The Hogs make the mistake of walking into a “real” biker bar, where the Ray Liotta character puts up a front and confronts them like the town bully. Oh they get teased and all that, and they’re forced to leave town, but not before Woody sabotages Liotta’s gang’s motorcycles and accidentally blows up the entire bar. Now the gang’s on their heels, and when the Hogs take shelter in the nearby town of Madrid (no, they’re not in Spain), they’ve cornered themselves. None of this is new in any way. It’s all been done before. The conflict, the build up, the panic and delirium, the climax, the resolution. Done before. Many of the jokes have been done before too, but they work because they’re the funny ones. And they’re delivered by actors who can handle them.

I’ve always been somewhat fascinated by biker gangs. What compels them to wear uniforms? Why do they do it? What are the advantages? I’m sure they would tell you that it benefits their lives in some way. But in what way? I have yet to start watching “Sons Of Anarchy”. I suspect some of the answers can be found there, depending on how accurate it is. They move and operate as one. The open road is theirs for the taking, and people usually turn their backs to them when they approach. Our Wild Hogs aim for a similar freedom, but they want to embrace people instead of scaring them. Sure, we know they will succeed, but at least they make us laugh will they do it.

Best Moment | There are a number of funny scenes. A lot of them involve William H. Macy, and some very un-opportunistic moments.

Worst Moment | Can’t think of one now, but I’m sure it’s out there.

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