Wild Hogs (2007)

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Wild Hogs
Dir. Walt Becker
Premiered February 27, 2007

I worry I’ve been going into these with the wrong attitude. 2007 is now farther in the past than I realized, and with nearly a decade of consensus around many of these films, it’s very hard to watch these with an open mind. Was I really apathetic about Norbit because it was so horrible as to transcend emotional reaction? Or, most likely, because I’d already known how terrible it was and why?

But even with fresh eyes, Wild Hogs would feel familiar, as it takes unoriginality to startling new levels. Martin Lawrence feels inadequate due to his job! John Travolta is the world’s least convincing bully! William H. Macy is a lonely nerd who likes computers! Not only is Tim Allen a workaholic who feels inferior to other dads, but he’s a dentist who feels inferior to doctors! What will they think of next!?

After being introduced one-by-one, these four men are inexplicably revealed to not only know each other, but pal around in their own little biker club, the Wild Hogs. In the midst of their respective midlife crises, they yearn for the open road and decide to take their bikes across the country.

Once they do, things take a turn for the extra-insulting. Our defiantly domesticated men are naturally unprepared for the realities of the open road. They set their tent on fire and are soon accosted by a cop. Is it for nearly starting a forest fore? Of course not; in a subplot that feels like it was cut from some Barney Miller-ripoff, they’re stalked by a predatory gay cop played by John C. McGinley. Of course, things only get more out of control. The guys piss off a local biker gang, leading Travolta’s character to accidentally blow up their hangout, forcing the guys to be heroes.

The look and feel of Wild Hogs is baffling. It has the colorful look and “zany” score of a bad kids’ movie, but clearly wasn’t intended for kids. Perhaps this film thrived on the same audience that made a hit out of Two and a Half Men, who apparently like to hear dirty jokes but never dirty words. It’s a squeaky clean, sanitized, gladhanding, corny, spiteful, passively sexist, occasionally racist, astonishingly homophobic romp. And you’ve already seen it all before.

Signs This Was Made in 2007
For the second time so far this year, the Pussycat Dolls’ “Don’t Cha” makes an appearance in a terrible comedy film.

Additional Notes

  • There’s an armada of C- and D-listers in this film, leading me to suspect Touchstone only made the movie to get some people out of their contracts, but by far the worst is Ray Liotta, bizarrely miscast as the main baddie, who makes a big speech about “real bikers” not being middle-aged suburbanite dads. The movie seems to agree, but based on experience, it couldn’t be further from the truth. If I was a biker, this movie would probably piss me off further.

  • Easily the most depressing cameo in this movie is Peter Fonda. To be clear, Easy Rider sucks, but it sucks in a completely different way and Wild Hogs isn’t fit to lick its boots.

  • I was hoping that William H. Macy would get through this movie with his dignity intact, and though it didn’t look good at first, he actually got the only funny-ish joke in the movie. But the fact that he gives it his all only highlights that he deserves better.

  • This movie offends me as a man. It trades in all the same insulting male clichés that bad sitcoms use to balance their insulting female clichés (because that totally makes it better); this time with barely any women in the movie. Congratulations, Walt Becker, you made a movie that Reddit and Tumblr can agree on.

How Did It Do?
Grossing $253.6 million (against a $60 million budget), Wild Hogs was, unbelievably, the first blockbuster of 2007. Critical response, however, was overwhelmingly negative, with a 14% rating on RT.

The film did well enough that Disney planned a sequel. But before that could happen, director Walt Becker went on to direct Old Dogs, a film that was also made under the Disney umbrella, co-starred John Travolta, has a similar title, and by all accounts was basically this movie but even worse. Released in 2009, audiences stayed the hell away, the film lost upwards of $60 million, and the world was spared Wild Hogs 2: Bachelor Ride.

Next Time: Zodiac

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