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|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir Walt Becker|
scr Brad Copeland
with John Travolta, Tim Allen, William H Macy, Martin Lawrence, Ray Liotta, Marisa Tomei, John C McGinley, Peter Fonda, Jill Hennessy, Tichina Arnold, Dominic Janes, Stephen Tobolowsky, MC Gainey, Kevin Durand, Steve Landesberg, Ty Pennington
release US 2.Mar.07, UK 13 Apr.07
07/US Touchstone 1h39
Campfire boys: Travolta, Allen and Macy
It's not a bad idea for a high-concept comedy, putting four middle-aged men on the road to rediscovery. But this lazy film never even tries to come up with something witty or original.
A slick businessman (Travolta), family-guy dentist (Allen), computer nerd (Macy) and hen-pecked writer wannabe (Lawrence) escape from their mundane lives every weekend by taking their Harleys out for a spin. They call themselves the Wild Hogs, and in a moment of middle-aged angst decide a road trip from their home in Cincinnati to the California coast is just what they need. So off they go. Minor mishaps ensue until they get to New Mexico and run afoul of the hothead leader (Liotta) of the feared Del Fuegos biker gang.
From the start, the film takes the goofy route through the material, with corny slapstick and hackneyed jokes, none of which are remotely funny. Macy's character, specifically, is inflicted with constant humiliations and pratfalls that feel strained and pathetic. Even so, he's the only one who emerges with any dignity from the film, since he's the only man in the cast who refrains from shameless overacting. Of the women, only Tomei (as Macy's love interest) registers as a human being; the others are hysterical and/or over-concerned caricatures.
While Becker (Van Wilder) directs the film in that blandly efficient Hollywood style, it's Copeland's simplistic script that's the real problem. Not only is the story bare-boned and uninvolving, but the dialog is laced with constant gay innuendo, none of which is either funny or telling. As a result, the film feels vaguely insulting on every level, with homophobia and ageism and a core message that manly men are only truly macho if they stand up for themselves and engage in some grisly violence in which no one, of course, actually gets injured.
The one good sight gag (a vulture on a desert highway) sits against a myriad of set pieces that fall utterly flat, from skinny dipping to bull slapping to a half-hearted Extreme Makeover Home Edition pastiche at the end. Even the biker anthems on the soundtrack are tired and overused, although at least Born to Be Wild isn't among them.
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© 2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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