by Lee Ranaldo
(In Paperback from Amazon)
What these four Cincinnati dudes have in common is their age, friendship and tireless (no pun intended) devotion to one another around a bar table. And, oh yes, their rides of choice. That would be their hogs -- late model Harleys tuned to perfection -- the real bondo holding this midlife quartet together.
In recognition of their camaraderie, dentist Doug Madsen's (Tim Allen) good natured wife Kelly (Jill Hennessey) named the group and sewed their logo on black leather jackets: The Wild Hogs. Which is not enough to fill them with a sense of purpose or a breakout from the routines of life, but it's catchy and spices up a dream or two about living in the wind.
When just divorced wheeler-dealer Woody Stevens (John Travolta) learns that he's broke and his life as he knew it is all but torn apart, the group's sedentary boredom is about to change. Concealing his personal need for an escape to greener pastures, Woody proposes a road trip to his hog mates for the rush of freedom it would give them all. Though they shrug the idea off at first, it gains traction as they think about their domestic ruts and dissatisfactions. In the case of plumber Bobby Davis (Martin Lawrence) it's a getaway from the hastle of a shrewish wife; and computer screw-up Dudley Franks (William H. Macy) just wants to do something about his inability to relate to women.
The zany crew gases up and takes off for the Pacific.
On the way they encounter the "Del Fuegos," (transl.: from the fires) a bike club of sociopathic rowdies headed by Jack (Ray Liotta), a bully retard who sees these weekend types as decrepit posers unfit to travel "their" highway. After unfairly appropriating Dudley's hog, he and his group of ruffian crazies intimidate our foursome, scaring them into going back home.
But this just doesn't set well with Woody. Against the sane protests of his compatriots, he returns to the Del Fuegos' barn cum clubhouse, pulls the gas lines off their bikes so as to make it impossible for them to chase after him, and retrieves Dudley's ride, leaving a gas soaked parking lot behind.
Not long afterward, when Woody sees the explosion in his rear view mirror, he's the only one who realizes that the Wild Hogs are in a lot of trouble.
Missing the last chance to fill up, the Hogs find themselves pushing their machines through the charming town of Madrid (emphasis on 1st syllable) where Dudley sputters his way into love with restaurant owner Maggie (Marisa Tomei) while the crew waits for the gas station to open. For that short while they become part of the fabric of a small town's good life, enjoying the interlude for several minutes too long.
Amidst their climactic standoff with Jack and his gang of tyrannizing showboaters, there's a little surprise at the end which I can't, of course reveal here. All I'll say is that it's a convenient Deus Ex Machina, which Greek dramatists and scholars will know all about. If you need an explanation it's best we move on.
Writer Brad Copeland dreamed it up and director Walt Becker gave it gas. Not exactly high test, but enough comedic octane for four rad guys to tickle our pistons if we're not overly mature about it. It's about an eight on the family-tested shenanigan scale.
(Discount price - Available in Blu-ray)