Sunday, March 4, 2007

More like tame Guinea Pigs

This is one of those movies that looks as if it was more fun to make than it is to watch. Travolta, Macy, Lawrence and Allen get to show off their motorcycle-riding skills, and those of their stuntmen. They bop around New Mexico on their Harleys — in leathers, often without helmets — and goof around. And Disney paid them for it.

I'm going to try to keep this short. If I obey my mother's maxim, it won't be that hard.

When I read the review above, of which I've quoted only a paragraph, I wasn't the least deterred from seeing the film. I'd been looking forward to it for months. I'd pointed out the poster to my wife, weeks ago, and said, from the poster alone, that I'd bet money John Travolta was the only one of the bunch who really rode a bike. She saw the boys later on Opra and confirmed that intuition. Heck, I'd even garnered a kitchen pass (the married guys will know what that means) to gather a group of my guy friends on opening night for a vicarious road trip followed by some serious male bonding over beer and chips.

It ended up being the night after opening night, and we should have gone straight to the bar.

Not that I didn't laugh. I laughed hard, here and there. But I wasn't expecting quite the slapstick film that I got. The best comedy I can remember from the last ten years remains America's Sweethearts. Why? Because it was side-splittingly hilarious without ever being unbelievable or silly. It was to comedy what the newest Bond was to Bond films (okay, not entirely believable, but not filled with silliness and gadgets either). How can I say this? It's the comedic difference between City Slickers and Anchorman (or any other idiotic Will Farrell film--God bless him, I'm glad my kids love him, he showed promise in Stranger than Fiction, but I could feel myself losing IQ points just watching the previews to his upcoming ice skating movie).

I realize that I'm betraying a lot about my own taste in film here, but that's the point--to allow you to get to know what I like and don't, so that you can value my opinion, or not. Things my children find hilarious now make me worry about their good sense, and they, on the other hand, think I'm losing my sense of humor. I'm not that cerebral either--I can only do Woody Allen if the seat is really comfortable and my head can find a position that precludes snoring. But no Will Farrell, please, and this film was headed in that direction. Not there, mind you, but dangerously close.

So, back to Wild Hogs. I wasn't deterred when I read that review because it sounded to me like jealousy was getting the better of Roger Moore. Who cares if they had fun making the film? If I can have nearly as much fun watching it, then I'm good to go. It's a guy thing. We're used to living vicariously through other guys--especially those of us who have been married for decades but still have die hard single pals. (Watch Rules of Engagement on Monday night for a healthy dose of what I mean. The writers recognize it, so I ought not be letting any cats out of the bag here.) But alas, Roger wasn't being jealous; he was just being honest.

So, bottom line, it's funny, hilarious in places, but it's silly too--too much so for most of us close to that age to seriously project ourselves into those leathers for the vicarious trip we were looking forward to. Which means, I suppose, we'll just have to do it ourselves. And , I'll have to give Roger Moore a little more credit from here on out.