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Wild Hogs (2007)

Touchstone Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 8/14/2007

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Video: 1/2
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/11/2007

In this age where it seems that a box-office record is shattered every few weeks, it's not that unusual for a film to cross the $100-million mark. But, when a movie makes $168-million, this typically means that the film has crossed several boundaries -- cultural, generational, gender, and genre. Sometimes that movie is an event movie, such as Star Wars or Transformers. But, it can also be a seemingly benign movie, such as the recent hit, Wild Hogs.

Wild Hogs introduces us to four suburban men who are at cross-roads in their lives. Doug (Tim Allen) is a dentist who feels that his son doesn't respect him. Bobby (Martin Lawrence) is dominated by his wife (Tichina Arnold) and has a terrible job (I won't spoil that joke for you). Dudley (William H. Macy) is a bumbling computer programmer who is afraid of women. And Woody (John Travolta) is flat broke, and his wife has left him. The quartet have formed a motorcycle club called "Wild Hogs" and they enjoy riding around the city. Woody's situation leads him to suggest that the group take a cross-country trip on their bikes. The others are hesitant at first, but they eventually agree. The simple trip from Cincinnati to California turns into an adventure as the group encounters insane cops, angry bikers, and a small town full of helpless people. Will their friendship survive, and more importantly, will they survive?

I vividly remember seeing the trailer for Wild Hogs and being surprised by the eclectic cast. Other than that, I thought to myself, "That doesn't look like my kind of movie." That is, until the shot where John Travolta gets hit in the face by a bird. That shot made me chuckle and that image perfectly personifies this movie.

Watching Wild Hogs is like watching two movies at once. On the surface, we have the primary story -- the four men taking the road trip -- which isn't the least bit original. It's like City Slickers with motorcycles meets any road movie meets any movie with a "If you're going fight him, then you're going to have to fight me too." scene. From start-to-finish, the story is very predictable, and the movie offers few (if any surprises). Every character in the movie is a stereotype, especially the four leads, who never rise above sit-com buffoonery. As with nearly every show on TV these days, the men in Wild Hogs are portrayed as bored, spineless husbands (save for Dudley), who aren't very smart. Typically movies like this are saved by quirky secondary characters, but all that we get here is Steven Tobolowsky playing an incompetent sheriff.

Despite these issues, which make the film drag at times, Wild Hogs does have a certain amount of charm and wit, most of which deriving from the presence of Allen, Travolta, Lawrence, and Macy. The making-of featurette on the DVD informs us that these actors ad-libbed much of their dialogue and it shows. (Either that, or someone did an uncredited re-write on the project to punch things up a bit.) For, within this stale story are some very funny moments, most of which come from throw-away lines, or odd gestures from the actors. As with National Lampoon's Van Wilder, director Walt Becker adds little to the proceedings and it’s clear that he simply set the cast loose to work. As would be expected, Tim Allen has some great lines, but Travolta steals the scene where the Hogs first meet the bad bikers. The movie isn’t consistently funny, as many of the jokes which were clearly intended to be jokes, such as John C. McGinley, fall flat. But, there were enough oddly funny moments to hold my interest.

Having now seen Wild Hogs, it’s clear why the movie was such a huge hit. It features several well-known actors who are older than the average film-going demographic in a broad comedy which only slightly pushes its PG-13 rating. In short, the movie has something to offer many facets of a general audience. But, anyone looking for an original comedy, or a true family film will be disappointed. The movie features some talented actors trying to make the most of a weak script, but the scattered funny lines only makes this one worth a rental.

Wild Hogs rides down a lonely road onto DVD courtesy of Touchstone Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer has been enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. As this is a recent hit movie, one would hope that the transfer would look good, and it does. The image is sharp and clear, showing very little grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look fabulous, as the film goes from green landscapes to stark desert scenes. (Although in the night-time scenes, the flesh tones seem a bit off.) The daytime scenes show a very nice depth. I noted some video noise at times, but otherwise the transfer was fine. The DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Normally, a comedy such as this wouldn’t have a very exciting sound track, but the motorcycles in this movie create a nice amount of surround sound and subwoofer action. Anytime the motorcycles are in use, the viewer will feel as if they are there.

The Wild Hogs DVD contains some extra features, but not as many as one would expect from such a popular film. We start with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from director Walt Becker and writer Brad Copeland. This is an OK talk, as they make many scene-specific comments, chatting about the cast and the locations. But, there are some long pauses and they don’t get very in-depth into any of their descriptions. “Bikes, Brawls, & Burning Bars: The Making of Wild Hogs” (16 minutes) begins with a profile of Becker, and then moves into a discussion of the cast and characters, the motorcycle training for the actors, and stunts. “How to Get Your Wife to Let You Buy a Motorcycle” is an odd 3-minute talk with stunt coordinator Jack Gill on the titular subject. ALTERNATE ENDING/DELETED SCENES has 3 entries, 2 of which can be viewed with optional commentary by Becker and Copeland. The alternate ending has a call-back joke which doesn’t work. Finally, we have a 3-minute OUTTAKES reel.

Review Copyright 2007 by Mike Long