- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 1, 2007

The titular “Wild Hogs” ride motorcycles, but they also carry around spare tires in this boomer biker romp that celebrates the joy of middle-aged men reclaiming their self-respect.

The Wild Hogs are four pals who ride motorcycles when they’re not carpooling or counting their cholesterol. Woody (John Travolta) has a trophy wife and a huge house, but it’s all collapsing around him. Dudley (William H. Macy) can’t steer his motorcycle straight or get women to look twice at him. Doug (Tim Allen) is a successful dentist, but his teen son doesn’t respect him. And Bobby (Martin Lawrence) is the most henpecked husband since “Norbit.”

Woody’s failing marriage persuades him to pitch a road trip to his pals. They balk at first, but the chance to ride the open roadways and escape their suburban malaise is too good to pass up.

So off they go, setting up a chain of hackneyed set pieces with plenty of juvenile gags to keep them company.

The homosexual rights groups that denounced the Super Bowl Snickers ad in which two men kissed, then acted repulsed by the act, are sure to be firing off press releases after seeing “Hogs.”

The men go skinny-dipping but are afraid of seeing each other’s nether regions, fend off the advances of a prissy cop (“Scrubs’ ” John C. McGinley) and go ballistic when their sleeping arrangements force them to spoon for warmth.

Eventually, the men manage to incur the wrath of a genuine biker gang dubbed the Del Fuegos.

Can these faux bikers stand up to the real deal, or have the years softened their resolve?

For a while, it looks like Mr. Travolta is back — or at least awake on-screen — after his somnambulant turns in “Ladder 49” and “Be Cool.” By the final fistfight with the Del Fuegos, he’s left to mug shamelessly, his character so poorly constructed it’s hard to blame him for throwing caution — and pride — to the wind.

Mr. Macy makes a few of his dweebish biker bits seem new, and Mr. Lawrence looks so at ease here that his own comic rhythms pick up the screenplay’s sizable slack.

Ray Liotta screams his lines as the Del Fuego leader, and the talented Marisa Tomei is wasted in a brief role as the small-town girl who hooks up with Dudley.

It’s all so sitcomlike, a surprise given that screenwriter Brad Copeland cut his teeth writing for both “My Name Is Earl” and “Arrested Development,” two very unconventional comedies.

“Wild Hogs” is, to be sure, highly flawed, but the overgrown boys mean well — and just try rooting against them when the Del Fuegos have them cornered.

Besides, if they can survive this one-note script, they have nothing to fear from a tough band of bikers.

**

TITLE: “Wild Hogs”

RATING: PG-13 (Crude and sexual content, some violence)

CREDITS: Directed by Walt Becker. Written by Brad Copeland

RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes

WEB SITE: https://wildhogs

.movies.go.com/

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS


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