'Wild Hogs': Uneasy Riders

Motorcycles and midlife crises: John Travolta in
Motorcycles and midlife crises: John Travolta in "Wild Hogs." (By Lorey Sebastian -- Copyright Touchstone Pictures)
Friday, March 2, 2007

It has been a hard few weeks on big stars. Nicolas Cage, his head aflame, in the zany "Ghost Rider." Then Jim Carrey spouting infantile gibberish like a monkey that has just learned the meaning of ba-na-na in "The Number 23."

Now, trailing dust and reeking of desperation, here comes the even lamer, stupider, sadder "Wild Hogs," which makes pigs, not monkeys, out of John Travolta, William H. Macy, Martin Lawrence and Tim Allen. Drawing filaments of inspiration from "City Slickers" and "Lost in America," it's another tale of almost-old men feeling so out of sorts that only a road trip can help. The boys decide to make that trip on that road courtesy of some Milwaukee iron.

Calling themselves the Wild Hogs, the four Cincinnatians, apparently suffering from exposure to Newsweek's "Men and Depression" cover story, set out to recover whatever it is they lost. But the movie never rises to the level of the professional, much less the comic. The gags are witless and surprisingly gross (insect splatter, feces disposal bags, inadvertent homosexual come-ons and the like). The four actors, each accustomed to being at the center, never develop any rhythm, any chemistry, any anything.

Finally, two-thirds into its aimlessness, the movie turns into a mild parody of a previous parody, "Three Amigos." Mistaken for a real motorcycle gang, they save a picturesque town from destruction by the real gang. Oh, the wastage: charming Marisa Tomei, psycho Ray Liotta, plus the big four fronting the pic. It's born to be mild.

-- Stephen Hunter

Wild Hogs PG-13, 105 minutes Contains mostly potty humor, male nudity, sexual content and violence. Area theaters.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company