It was actually with some anticipation that I watched this week’s nominee. Know your enemy! At the very least, I feel like I have made more than my fair share of Wild Hogs jokes over the past couple of years, and it felt like it was time to earn those jokes by paying the price of actually seeing the movie. Don’t get me wrong, I could have made Wild Hogs jokes for my entire life without ever seeing it. Because while it is true that you can’t form any kind of meaningful or insightful criticism of a thing without experiencing it for yourself, it is also true that when it comes to terrible movies you can make a PRETTY EDUCATED GUESS. For example, you don’t have to actually see Paul Blart Mall Cop to say that movie is a tired fart on a lukewarm day (huh?). But if you do go to the trouble of seeing it, then the fart jokes will be that much sweeter (yuck).
THEN AGAIN, maybe you really do need to experience something for yourself, even just to make poorly thought out fart jokes about it, because I have to admit that I was blown away by Wild Hogs. Oh, it was terrible. It is definitely one of the Top Five Worst Movies of All Time. Probably #2. But it is also unlike any movie I have ever seen in my entire life.
So, the “Wild Hogs” are a group of middle-aged men, Doug (Tim Allen), Woody (John Travolta), Bobby (Martin Lawrence), and Dudley (William H. Macy) who live in Cincinnati, Ohio. They are just REGULAR GUYS, like YOU OR ME. They are all at different levels of success in their lives, but the one thing that they have in common is their TRUE friendship, and their love of fist bumps.
We are introduced to each of the characters pretty quickly. Doug (Allen) is a dentist who is having trouble relating to his son, and is watching his cholesterol. Oh man, don’t you guys hate watching your cholesterol? It’s the worst. The only thing worse than watching your cholesterol is relating to your son. Ugh, and don’t even get me started on disgusting grapefruit.
Yuck. Oh to be young again, and eating like a disgusting barnyard animal. That was the life! (Foreshadowing to theme of the movie.) Meanwhile, there is Dudley (Macy), who has terrible luck with women and is a super klutz. He also must be very rich, although that is never stated outwardly (show don’t tell!), because he crashes his motorcycle every time he turns it on (that’s what you do with a motorcycle, right? Turn it on? Got it) and those things are expensive to repair, probably.
The only thing that Dudley loves more than getting his ruined motorcycle fixed is computers. I guess? I mean, he gets the Macintosh Computers logo from 1987 tattooed on his arm:
The first time we meet him, he is trying to pick up a woman at a coffee shop (adults!) by pretending to be very knowledgeable around a computer, but boy oh boy does it go wrong! First of all, he refers to his computer as a “Mac” even though it is clearly a PC, no nerdo, and then everything else that happens is also just a thing that does not happen.
Oh Dudley! Oh normal computers! So flammable!
Next, let’s meet Bobby (Lawrence). We first encounter him in his office, working on something that I am sure is very important (it’s Martin Lawrence, guys!). He must be a lawyer, just look at all those law books casually displayed behind him almost as an afterthought, they’re just so natural looking there.
Then his wife is like “we had an agreement and it’s time for you to get back to work” (the experiment was for Bobby to take a year off and fulfill his lifelong dream of writing a “How To” book, because that is definitely a real lifelong dream that people with families take huge risks to make true for sure), she adds that she already called “the firm” and they are waiting for him to get back to work. Oh, he is definitely a lawyer then. A firm is where a lawyer works!
WHUUUUUUUUUUUUT?! He is a plumber and the plumbing company where he works is called The Firm! A CLASSIC MISUNDERSTANDING INVOLVING A CHARACTER ACTOR THAT ALMOST ALWAYS PLAYS LAWYERS, THAT IS WHY IT WAS SO CONVINCING. And no wonder Bobby hates his life! He’s a plumber, and plumbers have to deal with POOP. (Seriously, that is basically what this movie suggests. That Bobby is miserable because of how plumbers are just poop cleaner-uppers.)
And finally there is Woody (Travolta). His friends don’t know it yet, but Woody is broke, and he is going through a divorce from his supermodel/actress wife. We never see her, but we definitely know she is real because why else would Woody have these pictures of her in his mansion?
No, she’s definitely real. Besides, everyone knows that most of the world’s famous supermodels/actresses live in Cincinnati, Ohio, because it’s just like any other profession: you have to be where the work is. Anyway, Woody is definitely going through a mid-life crisis (see: flame-bandana) now that his very realistic and normal world is falling apart. And sure, he loves riding his motorcycle around with his motorcycle gang to the local bar where the cast of Orange County Choppers hang out (much like models, they also love Cincinnati, and try to hang out there whenever they can, which is always).
But Woody wants some excitement in his life! He also probably wants to escape from the tatters of his marriage and…does he even have a job? It is so hard to tell with two-dimensional, thinly-drawn caricatures sometimes. The rest of the “gang” would love to go on a road trip with Woody, but they are all too married and too middle-aged to really be FREE. At least for the next five minutes. But then pretty quickly it turns out that they can go. Oh great. And so the rest of the movie is their adventures as a Real Bike Gang out on the Open Road having Adventures and being men. They learn a lot about themselves and each other, and they also learn a lot about completely ignoring their families. Because after the first few minutes, we do not hear any more about their wives and children. OH WHAT A DREAM COME TRUE, TO GET AWAY FROM THOSE FUCKING ASSHOLES.
That is the thing that you need to understand about the world of Wild Hogs: it is a world in which wives are impossible nags…
…children are screaming shitheads…
and men never get to do anything that they want.
Like eat a whole stick of butter?
The only thing I liked better about that clip than the “jokes” and the tremendous acting was the totally cool and appropriate background music, that was simultaneously dramatically appropriate, original, and set at the right volume. And the only thing that I liked better than the music was the clip’s suggestion that eating a healthy diet in order to prevent against heart disease, and not screaming at your children in a self-absorbed melt-down are both for dorks. LET’S YELL AT EVERYONE AND DRINK GRAVY FROM A TUREEN LIKE A PIECE OF SHIT, BECAUSE WE ARE MEN, AND IF WE DO END UP HAVING SOME KIND OF HEART ATTACK FROM IT, AT LEAST DR. DREW WILL TAKE CARE OF US!
“Hey, that the guy what who I seen on the TV and now he be is in my movie!” — Wild Hogs audience member
OK, so here is the amazing thing about Wild Hogs (sorry to have buried the lede so deeply): while it is purportedly a movie about middle aged men for middle aged men about the frustrations of aging and the desire to remain vibrant and vital and virile even as one enters a more mature phase of family and work and responsibility, this is actually a movie for children. Literally. And if this is what middle-aged men want, then middle-aged men need to GROW THE FUCK UP. To give you a sense of what I mean, William H. Macy eventually falls in love with Marisa Tomei, and the relationship develops like a Jr. High crush. There is no mention, reference, or allusion to sex. William H. Macy tells his friends that he “really likes” her. And then there is shit like this:
The “comedy” is slapstick, and the plot is cartoonish. The dramatic climax of the movie literally involves saving a town from a mean biker gang, which falls to the Wild Hogs because the Sheriff is hiding inside! You know how Sheriffs are. So skittish!
While the movie was a G-rated romp for tiny babies, it did take one dark turn into adult territory, and that was with its homophobic jokes! Yay! Finally, something JUST FOR THE GROWN UPS. Don’t you guys hate when you finally cut loose from your terrible family that you hate and get out there on the open road, only to run into some disgusting faggot?
HAHHHAHAHAH, WE ALL HATE THEM! GET AWAY FROM US, YOU FAGGOT!
Very adult. Very mid-life. Very crisis.
The movie was #1 its opening weekend, making triple what David Fincher’s Zodiac made that same weekend, and eventually pulling in almost $253 million in worldwide ticket sales. Yikes. So clearly someone wants this. Lots of people in fact. I’m guessing 7-year-olds with high blood pressure who hate their boss?
Everything about the movie is terrible across the board, with the sole exception of William H. Macy, who gets so many points for seriously just committing to this nightmare and really selling his character. Oh, it was a terrible character, but William H. Macy did the best he could, which is usually pretty good, so whatever. I hope that he is enjoying his new pool house, or whatever. John Travolta, on the other hand, seriously just committed to turning in the worst performance I have ever seen in my life, and really selling his face down the river. He clearly seems to think that “acting” in a “comedy” means “lots of funny faces,” lots of “yelling,” and lots of “hand gestures.” You know, comedy.
Like, what on Earth kind of human emotion is this supposed to convey?
Hilarious! Or this?
At least when it comes to dancing, he’s still got it!
What a good actor. What a good comedy.
Wild Hogs is awful, one of the very worst, and yet it is unlike anything that I have ever seen. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in anthropology. Lord knows, it is going to serve the mecha-hoverscientists very well in the future when they are trying to map out who we were before it all went poof! (“Good riddance” — mecha-hoverscientists.)
Next week: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. As always, please leave your suggestions in the comments or in an email. And if you haven’t done so already, please consult the Official Rules.