This is an installment for a series on this blog where Joe Brown, Regional Editor for RiverTown Multimedia, and I have a back-and-forth review of a movie. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, I picked “Wild Hogs.”
The Movie: “Wild Hogs”
Starring: Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence, John Travolta
Director: Walt Becker
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) A group of suburban biker wannabes looking for adventure hit the open road, but get more than they bargained for when they encounter a New Mexico gang called the Del Fuegos.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 14 percent
Froemming: Last week, we experienced a talented cast be completely unutilized in a wasteland of rom-com cliches with “How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days.” This week, I wanted to get away from romance and hit the open road of toxic masculinity with our hero of the JOE-DOWN, John Travolta.
“Midlife Crisis: The Movie” “Wild Hogs,” a film about four middle-aged men acting like obnoxious teenagers because that’s apparently what is in store for Brown and I in 20 years. A tale of men tired of the work-a-day world they are trapped in with their loving and supportive families who dare to ask them to eat a salad once in a while or, you know, get a (REDACTED) job.
Before we crank up “Born To Be Wild” and jump on our bikes and hit the road of this terrible movie, Brown what are your first thoughts?
Brown: My first thought is that you’re not getting me on a motorcycle. Best bet, one of those trike motorcycles. I want ALL the wheels on the ground.
Now, I didn’t know anything about this movie, save for not wanting to see it because it looked terrible when it hit theaters in 2007. And… that thought never changed.
For some reason, I never got into Tim Allen. Never was a “Home Improvement” fan.
Even one of my favorite actors (Ray Liotta) from my favorite movie (“Goodfellas”) wasn’t going to save this.
The only anecdote that entertains me about this movie: During a wrestling podcast, a former WWE writer mentioned that “Wild Hogs” was Vince McMahon’s favorite movie. Considering how wrestling is most of the time, that made all the sense in the world.
So, fire up this bad boy, Froemming.
Froemming: We have four friends living the middle-class life of suburbia Cincinnati, and are finding their lives lacking.
Let’s meet our characters:
- Tim Allen as Doug Madsen: Doug is a dentist whose kid thinks he is a nerd and is somehow married to one of the most beautiful women in the world. I guess grunting like an ape at women is the way to go.
- John Travolta as Woody Stevens: Woody, we find early on, is getting divorced and is broke. He even tries to scam a local kid into raking his giant yard for $10 and screams at the kid when this doesn’t happen.
- Martin Lawrence as Bobby Davis: Aspiring “How To” book writer, probably had his life changed when he saw Andie Anderson from “How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days.” His wife makes him go back to his old job: Plumber.
- William H. Macy as Dudley Frank: Dudley is the only character I enjoyed in this movie. Even when handed a script that can be described as a (REDACTED) sandwich, Macy still does a good job with what he is given. Dudley is the socially awkward one of the group.
These four have been riding motorcycles together for decades and call themselves the Wild Hogs. It is their escape from the trappings of their dull lives where they get to be homophobic and jerks outside of the family.
Brown: I’m glad you mentioned all the characters’ names in this movie because I did not care to learn any names in this movie. As far as I’m concerned, this movie is Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence and William H. Macy convincing a movie studio to pay for their cross-country biker trip.
And when John Travolta starts yelling at the neighbor kid about raking the leaves, I figured that was actual footage of John Travolta yelling at an actual neighbor kid.
But seriously, this whole thing is predicated on Tim Allen being fed up with life. Who wants grapefruit for breakfast?! Or salad for dinner?!
It’s such dumb, macho BS. Accept you’re getting older. Move on. Tim Allen, you had a panic attack after shoveling a stick of butter and mashed potatoes into your mouth. And you got treated by Dr. (REDACTED) Drew.
Finally, Tim Allen’s wife pushes him out the door so
she can have a steamy affair he can blow some steam.
That’s all I heard when Tim Allen spoke. And frankly, that’s on him for building a career out of grunting.
Now, even the Wild Hogs’ existence is getting stale. They go to the same bar every week on their bikes and do the same thing. Woody, having a midlife crisis, decides they should do a cross-country road trip to feel free again.
Of course, this comes off as a bad idea to everyone because they do not want to get out of their comfort zone. But Doug’s wife (out of exhaustion from all the grunting in the house?) persuades him to go. Bobby has to lie to his wife about a toilet bowl conference (this happened in this movie). Dudley just goes along with the guys and gets an Apple logo tattooed on his arm.
Brown: So, our four guys become that lame posse of Harley riders you see in the suburbs and depart until they get to the Pacific Ocean. Part of me was hoping they mistakenly went north, reached Lake Erie and turned back around to make this a 20-minute movie.
Now, were you alarmed at how much they tried playing up the machismo of bikers by having EVERY blonde in the movie turn to them like sex is imminent?
Again, I think this was the real life of our four actors in an self-esteem boost attempt.
Froemming: I was alarmed by pretty much this whole movie. But I will note this is the only Travolta film we have watched were he doesn’t treat a woman like complete garbage. So, improvement? I dunno.
And our gang of inept men hit the road and on their first night of camping out, they somehow manage to burn their tent to the ground and we find out Dudley keeps his poop in a bag. Because he is weird. GET IT???!!! DUDLEY IS A WEIRDO!!!
Brown: Well, Travolta is getting divorced, so one could posit he treated his (now) ex-wife poorly.
And no sympathy for the tent burning down. It’s because Tim Allen flung a burning marshmallow off a stick. All you had to do was blow. Like this movie.
If that wasn’t enough to kill brain cells, John C. McGinley plays a gay cop that twice stalks our riders.
It was at this point I wrote in my notes for the first time that I hate this movie.
Froemming: We haven’t seen McGinley since “Highlander 2,” and it is a real shame because I like him as an actor. But, this is the JOE-DOWN, not “Masterpiece Theater.” We watch what others often don’t want to watch.
After getting smacked in the face with bugs and a crow on the road…
Brown: CGI bugs! The mark of a good movie.
Froemming: …the Wild Hogs find a nice little lake to take a dip in. And hey, “Starship Troopers” had CGI bugs, right? They were aliens, but still bugs. Let’s not dump on CGI bugs here.
Now, Dudley decides to get completely nude in the lake, which seems to arouse uncomfortable feelings in John Travolta. Notice I said Travolta and not Woody here.
The rest of the gang decides “What the hell?” and drop their underwear. This is interrupted by a family joining them in the lake, which should have resulted in four men arrested to sexual deviance around children. They could have just told the dad “look, we’re nude here. Go somewhere else” and the man, maybe a little baffled, would have said “OK, let’s go family. John Travolta is naked in this lake, and nobody wants to see that.” But they didn’t and the dad swam into Travolta’s exposed junk.
Brown: Sorry guy, that spot is reserved only for mechanical bulls.
After more montages of riding motorcycles across the country, they show up to a real biker bar, the Del Fuego Bar. And it’s there that I wish Ray Liotta became Henry Hill and went “Goodfellas” on these guys and ended these four yuppies.
And because scary bikers and all, the Del Fuegos take Macy’s bike, leaving him to a sidecar attached to Travolta’s Harley.
This, this does not sit well with
FBI Special Agent Sean Archer Travolta, who walks back to the bar and steals back Macy’s bike. While he’s at it, he cuts the fuel lines to the gang’s bikes.
So, as they drive by, the bikers try to go after our foursome. Until they realize the lines are cut. And a cigarette drops out of Liotta’s mouth and sets the mother on fire.
So, they’re gonna die.
Froemming: Nope. Like The Grimace, you can’t kill the Del Fuegos. Their bar explodes and now they want revenge on the posers that caused them to act like jerks, steal one of the posers’ bikes and then the posers retalitated on them. Obviously this is all on the Wild Hogs.
Also, I am no legal expert, but I think Woody committed a bunch of felonies by causing that explosion. Divorced life is going to be much more difficult in a federal prison.
The Hogs, whom Woody spun a yarn about threatening legal action against the Del Fuegos and not telling them he almost killed the rival gang, are so jazzed that they foolishly don’t stop to gas up and run out of fuel in the middle of a blazingly hot highway.
Brown: Well, Travolta didn’t quite think that the bar would go ablaze. So, he knows they’re screwed. Plus, that was a packed bar. It couldn’t be all bikers in there. What about cooks? Bartenders?
What I’m saying is, John Travolta inadvertently committed murder.
While they’re all getting agitated due to dehydration, they came across a sign for the town of Madrid a mile away. Food! Drinks! Gas!
And the first thing Tim Allen does when he gets to the town’s diner is try and chug a pitcher of beer.
Hey dude, beer (alcohol, really) dehydrates you. That pitcher is going to do the opposite of what you need it to do.
Froemming: Look, nobody has ever accused Tim Allen of being a smart guy. I mean, he once compared Hollywood liberals to Nazis.
The townsfolk in Madrid are fearful of these guys because they think they are affiliated with the Del Fuegos. When they find out they are not, they are welcomed to the town and their annual chilli competition. I was hoping Chief Wiggum would have wowed the folks with his Guatemalan Insanity Pepper secret ingredient. I would have loved to see Dudley venture out on a vision quest with a dog with the voice of Johnny Cash guiding him. But, alas, we get Dudley eating the diner owner’s (Marisa Tomei) batch and slightly farting.
Brown: Major problem with the town of Madrid: You have one gas station in town. Why is it closed on Sundays? People have places to go, you’re going to cost yourself money because it’s the Sabbath? Nope. I refuse to believe it. Glad Macy found love and Martin Lawrence got to act manly and all, but the premise of them staying in down is built on a lie.
And in perhaps the weirdest cameo of this movie, we have the townsfolk entertained by the music stylings of Kyle Gass from Tenacious D.
I rather enjoyed his version of Lil’ Sebastian’s theme song: “My Pony” by Ginuwine.
Froemming: I’ve driven through small towns like this where the gas stations, for whatever reason, are closed at bad times. Mostly in southwest Minnesota.
Brown: Closed, OK, sure. But you can’t use a credit card at the pump? It’s 2007, that technology existed.
Froemming: I’m just saying I’ve seen it man. Sometimes the pumps are ancient and do not have pay-at-the-pump.
Also, Kyle Gass was incredibly hilarious to me. Did not intend for a Tenacious D cameo two picks in a row.
The Del Fuegos send Swamp Thing from “Con-Air” and a stooge out to find the Hogs and, with Ace Frehley-style magic vision, see Dudley dancing with the diner owner from a far distance. They have to play it cool, because Ray Liotta wants them for himself.
Brown: Here’s a dramatization of what will happen when Ray Liotta gets them (NSFW):
I’m glad we skipped the “slap the bull” scene because it was stupid.
Now, for the dancing part. Of course Travolta is the one to teach William H. Macy how to dance. And like every kid in “Foot Loose,” Macy is a professional dancer in an instant, sweeping Aunt May Marisa Tomei off her feet.
Members of Del Fuegos find our Wild Hogs and alert Liotta. But they make their presence felt by bullying a man over “piss” beer. Guys, I’m sure the bar that got burned down didn’t exactly serve high-end IPAs.
So, Martin decides he’s not going to take it and (believing Travolta’s false tale earlier) tells off the Del Fuegos, going so far as to squirt ketchup and mustard all over them.
Hey Froemming, remember when “Martin” used to be cutting-edge TV in the early ‘90s? Because Martin Lawrence clearly forgot that. It’s as bothersome as Ice Cube being a family actor nowadays.
Froemming: I was surprised to learn Martin Lawrence was still alive.
This act of courage inspires the town and the Hogs are local heroes. They want to stick around, but Woody knows Henry Hill is on his way with his tough medicine and fueled entirely by cocaine and his Pallies. And when he shows up with the Del Fuegos, our bumbling leads learn that Woody had lied to them about what went down earlier.
And this is where the Wild Hogs meet their violent end.
Brown: As the Wild Hogs hide (our heroes, everyone), Liotta says they either show or he starts destroying the diner, which is pretty much Marisa Tomei’s livelihood. So, William H. Macy goes to defend his girls’ honor… until the tire iron slips out of his hand. Now, hostage!
So, Tim Allen, John Travolta and Martin Lawrence decide they need to hit 88 35 miles per hour to snag Macy from his duct tape trap and drive away.
Naturally, it doesn’t work and the four are neck deep in Del Fuegos.
So this, naturally, leads to a fist fight.
Now, bikers may not be the violent folks that media and the Hells Angels as Altamont would have me believe. But I have a hard time believing not a single one of these Del Fuegos have a gun or a knife to end this skirmish rather quickly.
Froemming: Well, the townsfolk and their bumbling police force (including the Sklar brothers) have had it and with good old mob mentality that is always healthy for a democracy, raise their torches and pitchforks to brutally murder the Del Fuegos.
Until Peter Fonda, fresh from his surfing trip with Snake Plissken in L.A., shows up to end the madness.
Fonda plays the owner of the now-destroyed bar and founder of the Del Fuegos. He publicly shames his son, Liotta, and embraces the Hogs, who earned him a mint in insurance money. So, add insurance fraud to Woody’s list of felonies?
Brown: So, my favorite part of the movie because save for Macy and Tomei, I didn’t really like anyone: While Tim Allen’s family think he’s cool, Martin Lawrence is able to confront his wife when she talks at him, and Macy finds true love, Travolta still has a miserable existence. Yeah, he gets to finish his road trip, but his personal life after this is harrowing.
With how many Travolta movies we’ve watched, I’m OK with this result.
Post-credits, the Del Fuego Bar is rebuilt thanks to the Wild Hogs giving a suggestion to Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
I hate everything and everyone after this movie. Can we end this, Froemming? Did we reach the Pacific?
Froemming: Let’s ride on to freedom in recommendations.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Froemming: Nope. This is a mess of a movie with a lot of really bad attempts at humor.
Brown: Nope. It took me 50-plus minutes before I tried to learn a character’s name. So, yeah, this isn’t a good movie.