Wild Hogs (review)

Something Mild

William Macy, William Macy, Willam Macy! What are you doing in this junk? I thought you were better than this? Are there incriminating pictures somewhere?

I know, I know, I know. It’s a job, this acting thing, and sometimes an actor has to hold his nose and take a less than desirable job just to be working, but honestly, Bill: Wild Hogs? Why would you do this to yourself, and to us?

There are many questions this Disney excrement raises beyond the Mystery of Macy, though that may be the big one. Another: Why would Disney release this under its Touchstone flag, which is supposed to be an indicator that this is a movie for grownups, not for the kiddies, when clearly emotional or psychological maturity is absolutely not a prerequisite for, is in fact a detriment to, enjoying this dreck?

I’ll get back to that.
It would make no sense for me to rail against the idiocy of making a big-budget sitcom and throwing it up on the big screen. People like sitcoms, after all, god knows why — people like stereotyped characters and simplistic plotlines that end with everyone having Learned a Lesson and yet still throwing themselves right back into the same mess that prompted the learning of the lesson in the first place. It’s not idiocy, from the money-side perspective of Hollywood: it’s good business sense. The fact that hardly anyone will see this flick on a big screen is part of the plan — the theatrical release is but a giant advertisement for the DVD release, which will do gangbusters and will mean that everyone will see this on their TVs anyway.

But here’s the thing. This is a sitcom, right? It’s meant to have popular, widespread appeal, and its cardboard characters are meant, in many ways, to be mere stand-ins for the viewer — that’s partly how they can get away with being cardboard: the viewer overlays his own misery and angst onto them.

So this is the big question, then: Are so many American men so oppressed by the “horrors” of modern life — high cholesterol, uppity wives, smartass children, cell phones, boring jobs, the general dead-eyed awfulness of suburbia — that they need a stupid movie like this one to tell them that if they don’t like their lives they should do something about it?

And now we come back to the lack of emotional and psychological maturity necessary for an appreciation of this flick. Cuz here we have four middle-aged guys — John Travolta’s (Be Cool, Ladder 49) wealthy something-or-other (we never learn what he does for a living, he’s just “rich,” which may be the most honest thing about this movie, the remote impossibility of financial comfort for most Americans); Tim Allen’s (Cars, Christmas with the Kranks) dentist with a loving wife and son who thinks he’s a dork; Martin Lawrence’s (Open Season, Big Momma’s House 2) henpecked plumber; and Macy’s (Everyone’s Hero, Bobby) nerdy computer programmer — who hit the road on a biker holiday in order to escape themselves. And through all the usual tripe that accompanies dumb road movies (of course there’s a running-out-of-gas bit, for instance) is all the usual tripe that accompanies, these days, movies aimed at immature males: multiple poop jokes, including a recurring one; ongoing terror of homosexuality featuring the requisite joke of male rape; and an utter inability to take responsibility for their own behavior.

But this is aimed at adults, ostensibly. This is aimed at men who feel as these four caricatures do, that the pressures of modern life — or at least modern life as we’re “supposed” to live it, with corporate jobs and 5,000-square-foot houses, and mass consumerism — are too much to bear but who are completely incapable of seeing that there might be another way to live. Wild Hogs, in which the suburban duds take on a tough biker gang and Learn That Lesson about grabbing life by the horns, is a total fantasy. It acknowledges the disconnect between what’s supposed to make us happy and what actually does make us happy, and it says that there’s nothing you can do about it unless you’re a character in a stupid sitcom of a movie.

How sad is that?

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