Monday, April 7, 2014

Derp Blog Into Darkness #28: WILD HOGS (2007)

In Derp Blog Into Darkness, I take a plunge into the deep with movies I’ve never seen or (in some cases) never even heard of, with the only common thread throughout being that they were purchased by my partner in the years after the break with her religious upbringing. This gives me a wide variation in movies to explore, ranging from mainstream comfort food to more daring, “rebellious” stuff.

It’s been a while since I did a Derp Blog Into Darkness, what with Kaiju Kavalcade taking up so much of my blog time. My hand was forced, however, when last week Dissolve writer Nathan Rabin announced that the next entry in his delightful Forgotbusters column would be WILD HOGS. The intent of Derp Blog Into Darkness is for me to jump into movies I’ve never seen as blindly as possible, and having read a Forgotbusters on the movie would no doubt cloud my perceptions of it. So without further ado:

I always try to find out a few personal details surrounding the movie I’m Derp Blogging about: Was this a movie purchased for nostalgic reasons? Comfort food? A blind buy? Didn’t need to do it this time though, as my lovely fiancée was quick to point out sans prompting: “Why did I buy this movie? I only watched it the once. God…”

WILD HOGS makes many mistakes, but the principal one is giving us introductions to all four of our rambunctious porcines, complete with name title card and everything. Problem is, they’re all super well-off guys whose problems are pretty luxurious ones. Martin Lawrence took a year off to write a How To book but hasn’t managed to finish it. His horrible shrew of a wife dares to suggest he take his old plumber job back up. His daughter also looks like “an eskimo hooker” for wearing uggs and a skirt. She replies with “I’m supposed to!” which is either really weird or really cartoonishly conservative of the writer. Anyway, it made me go “Ha!” which, all things considered, is not a bad outcome for any given scene featured in the film WILD HOGS. John Travolta’s business is going south and his supermodel (implied gold digger) wife left him. We can all relate! Hilariously, Travolta’s business is vague enough that he’s a Vague Movie Big Shot guy who sits behind a desk in a tall building so you get the feeling that WILD HOGS is maybe an expensive AU fanfic of THE PUNISHER? Tim Allen’s problem is that he has to eat salads cuz of his high cholesterol. His skinny supermodel wife and cherubic movie son hilariously eat steaks with loads of gravy in front of his face all the time. Allen’s dentist job is also pretty boring. Man, I feel ya. I’ve said “hilariously” twice now but neither instance is a thing the movie finds hilarious. Ready for a third one? William H. Macy is a software developer who has trouble connecting with women because of his social awkwardness. He tries to impress a random lady in a coffeeshop with his new voice command program, but a glitch causes the program to search for “alternative sex”. I don’t know if the movie is trying to tell me that Macy is a guy with really bad ideas, or if this is its idea of the internet, but the program loudly states NOW SEARCHING FOR ALTERNATIVE SEX and brings up a bunch of pop up windows of fake porn sites who also immediately start playing sound files. The two I could make out were Sexy Grannies (“Granny is going to spank you!”) and Barnyard Love (“Moo! Moo!”). The “"Barnyard Love” pop-up window I found especially hilarious (see!) because as far as I know bestiality is illegal, and WILD HOGS suggests that a simple search for a keyword even vaguely related to it (Macy searched for “alternative sex”, not “animal sex” or anything) will bring up a page with a Playmate looking lady in farm girl clothes standing in front of a cartoon barn while farm animal .wav files start playing. Also lol old people fucking is in the same category as fucking animals.

Continuing down that lane, there’s also a gay panic running gag as John C. McGinley’s nameless gay highway patrolman character is inexplicably attracted to these saggy middle-aged dudes. Rather painfully, McGinley is actually pretty funny in a role that boils down to “get away from me mr gay man!!!”. He’s weird and enthusiastic and eager to take his clothes off. Doubly funny is Travolta’s character being super grossed out by male nudity. Speaking of weird, enthusiastic and gay, Macy’s character is the only one of the main guys who’s actually somewhat sympathetic because he’s so clueless and positive all the time. He’s also the one stuck with the Jar Jar Binks level “falling off of stuff” jokes. Mannn, you were in FARGO and MAGNOLIA, Macy! I add gay to that list of descriptors even though Macy’s character isn’t really supposed to be, but he does bear more than a little bit of Tobias Fünke DNA. AND IN FACT…

According to IMDb, WILD HOGS is not a written-by-committee movie. Only one writer, Brad Copeland, is credited, and he has six Arrested Development (!) episodes to his name. I suppose actors aren’t the only ones who can slum it, but this is really egregious. Gay jokes, slut jokes, Asian jokes. I laughed a couple times, I’ll admit, but two or three laughs in a 90 minute movie that fires them off at your average sitcom tempo ain’t exactly stellar.

The plot, what little there is of it, ends up being about the Wild Hogs being a small town’s unlikely saviors against the villainous Del Fuego motorcycle gang (featuring Ray Liotta, Kevin Durand and M.C. Gainey). A sort of unlikely MAGNIFICENT SEVEN type thing, like in A BUG’S LIFE, I suppose. The terrorized town is however not introduced until about an hour into the proceedings, and it’s a 90 minute movie. WILD HOGS is a movie that trades in the broadest of stereotypes for jokes and expects us to sympathize with rich dudes who are either bored or are upset at problems most of us would be pretty jealous of to have in our lives. If they’d skipped the whole first act with us getting to know these poor beleaguered, pampered rich men and centered more on the town, making its inhabitants a bunch of comedy misfits placing their hopes on boring suburbanites, a lot might have been salvaged. By focusing on the troubled lots of the Wild Hogs themselves, the movie starts off on the wrong foot and hops away to the valley of lost jokes to be beaten up by a tiny Asian man it thought it could take but turns out he could do kung fu.