In Wild Hogs, four suburban guys, each suffering the slings and arrows of midlife crisis, hoist their aging carcasses on motorcycles-cum-phallic-symbols and set out on a cross-country road trip to rediscover their old mojo(s). It's not a particularly good movie or a particularly funny one (did I forget to mention it's a comedy?), but Wild Hogs coasts comfortably on the likeability of its cast — John Travolta, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence and William H. Macy — each riffing on familiar aspects of their respective screen personae.
The frustrations from which our everyday heroes flee mostly involve work and romance (Allen's a dentist in a rut; Lawrence is a hen-pecked plumber; Macy is a lovelorn computer geek), but the big irony here is that the one character with the seemingly perfect life (Travolta) is actually in the worst shape of all, secretly flat broke and about to be dumped by his swimsuit-model wife. And so our heroes take to the open road where, as if you couldn't guess, everything goes from bad to worse.
If the movie's wisp of drama is based in frustration, its comedy is firmly rooted in pain — not that there's anything wrong with that. The humor here is mostly physical and of a lower-brow variety (characters frequently injure themselves and others, make funny faces in the shadow of emotional or material loss and deal with massive feces spillages, literally).
But, to the movie's credit, there's a blithely cheerful quality to even its most potentially cruel bits that, like a vintage Road Runner cartoon, keeps Wild Hogs from feeling mean-spirited. Even the obligatory soundtrack of classic road songs is a tad less annoying than you might imagine. At least I don't think I heard "Born to be Wild" in there.
Wild Hogs (PG-13) Stars Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, William H. Macy, Ray Liotta and Marisa Tomei. Opens March 2 at local theaters. 2 stars