Wild Hogs (DVD)
Directed by Walt Becker
Wild Hogs, one of the biggest hits of the spring, is now on DVD. Unfortunately, while the movie manages to stay on course for most of the ride, the DVD's extra features are road kill.
Born to be Wild
The premise is straightforward. Staring middle age in the mirror, four men embark on a cross-country road trip of reawakening and self discovery. They want to shake loose from the shackles of their static lives as a dentist, a plumber, a computer programmer and a lawyer. In short, they want to seize the day before they enter their personal golden sunset.
OK. Maybe that description is too hoity-toity. Especially considering the four men are Tim Allen (The Santa Clause), Martin Lawrence (Bad Boys), William H. Macy (Fargo) and John Travolta (Be Cool). Double that when their road trip entails riding Harleys, drinking beer and picking fights with some real road warriors lead by Ray Liotta (Field of Dreams).
In case there's still any confusion out there, this isn't On Golden Pond. This is Wild Hogs, a middle-brow crowd pleaser that keeps the laughs flowing fairly steady before taking a goofy detour that doesn't quite work right.
Slap the Bull
Walt Becker, director of the comedic magnum opus Van Wilder (as Borat would say, "NOT!"), has found a good writer to help him stay out of the gutter, at least most of the time. Brad Copeland, who's written for TV series including My Name is Earl and Arrested Development, runs the gamut of humor, from slapstick to character-based levity.
Things stay on cruise control for a good portion of the movie, but the story takes a wrong turn when the Wild Hogs visit a biker bar in New Mexico. There the guys meet Jack (Liotta), who heads a biker gang called Del Fuegos. Jack could spot posers like the Wild Hogs from a mile away and he quickly gives them a piece of his mind, railing against suburban assholes buying bikes and leather and thinking they're real bikers.
Soon enough the Wild Hogs find themselves the subjects of the Del Fuegos' wrath. It's this part of the storyline that drags the movie down a bit. At times the gears of contrivance can be heard squeaking in overdrive.
Even so, Wild Hogs scores enough good laughs to warrant a modest recommendation. Among its best moments are an appearance by Peter Fonda (Easy Rider), who admonishes the Wild Hogs to "lose the watches," and a clever end credits sequence involving a very, very special episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
As an added bonus, Kyle Gass makes a cameo as an extremely cheesy singer performing at a chile festival. Hmmm… Speaking of Kyle Gass, for an explanation of the value of stupid comedies such as this, please see the review of Nacho Libre, starring the other half of Tenacious D, Jack Black.
Perhaps it's only fitting the extra features on this DVD amount to nothing more than a pile of pig poo.
The idea behind running commentaries, generally speaking, is that they should be informative, maybe even enlightening. A really, really good one is also entertaining. If that's what you're looking for, skip this one, which features director Walt Becker and writer Brad Copeland. It could quite possibly make watching the movie less enjoyable.
Come on, Becker. You say this production was a magical experience wherein each and every one of your first choices for the principal characters signed on, from Travolta to Tomei. But how does that jibe with Lawrence's character originally being written as a white Jewish gynecologist named Bob Levenstein. It all smacks of hogwash.
And it's also somewhat depressing to hear more than a couple references to test screenings as the filmmakers carefully calculated the laugh quotient. If only they did test screenings on these crummy supplemental materials while they were at it.
Let's move on to the other pig slop, referring to the items as they are listed on the DVD jacket.
Bikes, Brawls and Burning Bars: The Making of Wild Hogs is a 16-minute pseudo-documentary. Ray Liotta staying in character and trying to keep everybody on track by yelling at his castmates, in jest, is as good as it gets here.
How to Get Your Wife to Let You Buy a Motorcycle: Huh? This is a lame segment; it's basically an interview with Jack Gill, the stunt coordinator, and his answer is totally superficial. He goes on to talk about wearing leather and the menacing sound of bikes amidst spliced-in scenes from the movie. It's nearly three minutes lost to eternity.
Freewheeling Alternate Ending: It sucks. The theatrical version actually works, this one doesn't.
High-Octane Deleted Scenes: There are exactly two of them and 100 percent of them are weak.
The alternate ending and precisely one-half of the deleted scenes also sport a commentary track by Becker and Copeland that is as empty as the one accompanying the feature film.
Outrageous Outtakes: No. They're not outrageous. They're a couple minutes worth of run-of-the-mill bloopers and whatevers.
Picture and Sound
The widescreen picture (2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced) is solid, beautifully replicating the on-the-road scenery.
The 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround track (available in English, French and Spanish) is also well done. The rockin" soundtrack comes across loud and clear.
Also available are subtitles in French, Spanish and English for the hearing impaired.
How to Use This DVD
Enjoy the movie, but check out the supplemental features at your own risk.
• Originally published at MovieHabit.com.