by Susan Starr and Kevin Kocur
Susan sez: “Wild Hogs” is about four middle aged, Cincinnati men who are each dissatisfied with their lives in some way. The friends meet each week to ride their bikes to the bar and pretend they are bad-ass bikers. They decide a bike trip to California will help them shake off their middle class, suburban ennui, and turn them into the wild and crazy guys they once were.
The movie is full of big name actors. The friends are played by John Travolta, Tim Allen, William H. Macy and Martin Lawrence. Along the way, they run into an evil biker gang led by Ray Liotta and one of them falls for a small town diner waitress, played by Marisa Tomei. It is like a job assistance program for big name actors on the downhill side of their careers. More effort went into the casting than the script writing.
The movie is mildly amusing and entirely predictable. There is an especially unfunny bit involving what a lousy rider William H Macy’s character is. He runs into things and goes flying. Since he manages to avoid serious injury, it’s a joke, instead of a warning about learning how to ride. At the beginning of the trip, in an attempt to show how wild and free they are, they all throw out their cell phones, with predictable results later on.
The best bit in the movie is a sequence shown during the credits. I don’t want to spoil it, so I’ll only say that if, in spite of this review, you decide to rent the movie, don’t turn it off when the credits roll. Kevin and I did manage to amuse ourselves during the movie by comparing the experiences of the characters with his experiences riding the Minnesota 1000. The only thing they really had in common was riding motorcycles. And maybe the skinny dipping. He was kind of vague about that.
Kevin sez: I’m sure it sounded like a wonderful concept at Disney headquarters. I can hear the pitch now: take four middle-aged guys from the suburbs, put ‘em on Harleys and send ‘em cross-country. Madcap hilarity will surely ensue. Oh, and make sure that you have an all star cast. The pitch worked. Wild Hogs opened at #1 and pulled in almost $40 million in its opening weekend.
But a sure-fire bone fide hit doesn’t always cater to all (OK, it didn’t cater to moi). Don’t get me wrong—there are lots of funny bits—but that doesn’t make up for the reality that this is a silly, predictable movie. The kind that my parents would have taken me to as a young lad. Only with swearing.
As expected, nearly all of the bikes in the movies are chromed-up Harleys. There’s a smattering of vintage stuff in there, but it’s mostly the kind of fluff that you’d see at your local chopper supermarket. Keen eyes will spot a Ural Deco parked across the street from the Hogs’ favorite watering hole.
Those same keen eyes will also spot an Orange County Chopper logo on one of the bikes belonging to a Del Fuego member. It also won’t come as a surprise that the OCC’s own Tuetuls, Junior and Senior, have a cameo appearance in the film. When I asked Orange County, NY-native Susan if she was proud of her local-boys-done-good, she told me to……well, we can’t actually print her reply. I pondered if the act itself was even physically possible.
While “Wild Hogs” may have been a big hit at the box office, after watching the first five minutes, I realized that the movie could also double as a training film for an MSF class. Just change the title to “What Not To Do On a Motorcycle”. Throughout the movie, the bikes take more of a beating than Buster (the crash test dummy) from “Myth Busters”.
Trivia Time! Upon meeting the Hogs, Damien Blade tells them to lose their watches. I chuckled, because the character is played by Peter Fonda, whose character in “Easy Rider” tosses his watch just before heading out on his big road trip. While the main characters hail from Cincinnati, none of the movie was actually filmed there. In the original script, the biker gang was the Hell’s Angels, but was changed to the Del Fuegos after the well known club sued Disney (MMM reported this in issue #84).