Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Wild Hogs

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In a key moment from the classic Albert Brooks comedy Lost In America, Brooks and his wife hit the road in their Winnebago, having left the trappings of yuppiedom behind in a quest to "touch Indians" and taste real freedom. As "Born To Be Wild" blasts on the soundtrack, Brooks catches the eye of a leather-clad biker out the side window and gives him a simpatico thumbs-up; the biker, in turn, gives him the finger. What Brooks discovers the hard way is that his Easy Rider dreams are fundamentally corrupt, because finding America can't be done with a Winnebago and a "nest egg." The biker immediately pegs him for who he really is—a poseur dealing with midlife crisis.

The abysmal road comedy Wild Hogs follows four middle-aged suburban men on a similar cross-country journey, but this time, the real bikers turn out to be the poseurs, while the yuppies have their white upper-middle-class superiority affirmed. Granted, there are plenty of jokes about how ridiculous these ineffectual latte-sippers look in their Village People getups, but basically, the film is City Slickers '07, a harmless fish-out-of-water story about guys who find themselves by roughing it a little. It's Oprah-ized therapy they're looking for, nothing truly life-changing.

The title Wild Hogs refers to the gang name of four motorcycle enthusiasts who occasionally go cruising through town together, provided (in most cases) that their spouses let them. They are Tim Allen, a dentist who worries that his kid thinks he's "lame"; John Travolta, a seemingly successful businessman who's facing bankruptcy and divorce; Martin Lawrence, a weak-willed plumber with a domineering wife; and William H. Macy, a goofy computer programmer who still has trouble operating his bike. (And his computer, for that matter.) Following Travolta's lead, these four leave their suburban cocoon and embark on a trip from Cincinnati to the Pacific, minus cell phones or GPS safety nets.

Between the tortured introductions—which include the second gag in a month (the first was in Because I Said So) about a middle-aged person accidentally downloading porn—and a prolonged pit stop in small-town New Mexico, Wild Hogs really doesn't spend much time on the road. Good thing, too, because after the guys are found sleeping side-by-side and skinny-dipping together, the writers must have run out of homosexual panic jokes. That leaves the heroes to confront the Del Fuegos, a group of biker thugs led by an amusingly deranged Ray Liotta, and thereby rediscover the balls they'd tucked away in a jar so many years ago. It's the equivalent of Billy Crystal "finding his smile" in City Slickers, and every bit as odious.