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The Wild Ones
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Rossiter Drake*

hogs.jpg
Four of Hollywood's most bankable stars
go road-tripping in Wild Hogs.

ROAD WARRIORS
(Courtesy of San Francisco Examiner)

There aren’t too many surefire recipes for box-office success, but it doesn’t hurt to have four of Hollywood’s most bankable stars – Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence and William H. Macy – along for the ride.

Perhaps that explains the early success of Wild Hogs, the latest middle-age-meltdown comedy about four guys who, feeling suffocated by the trappings of suburban domesticity, take to the road in their customized bikes, searching for lost youth and forgotten thrills. Despite less-than-stellar reviews, Hogs debuted as the top-grossing film in the country last week, earning nearly $40 million in its opening weekend. To Allen, the appeal of the film is simple and undeniable – as much for audiences as for its stars.

“What’s not to like? It’s so obvious,” he says. “For me, I get to pal around with three other guys, I don’t have to shoulder the movie, there are no kids, no dogs. There are adult themes and adult subject matter, so it was a return to the days of Galaxy Quest, an experience t I adored. I didn’t really care what it was about, I was ready to go. But hitting the road with your motorcycle and your friends, who wouldn’t want to do that?

“I think a lot of people will identify with these characters, too. In terms of my own experiences, it was just the opposite. During my college years, I was headed down a very dark path, and I hit bottom early. But in the movie, my character is like so many of my friends, like guys from my high school reunion. They had so many ideas and so many dreams, and they turn around at 50 and wonder what happened to them. I’ve always felt grateful that I was spanked many times early on, that I hit bottom and learned humility, because once you’ve been there, you can do anything.”

Although Allen is quick to profess his lifelong love for motorcycles – a passion discouraged early on by an accident that cost his brother a leg – he admits he took a few nasty spills on the set, much to the delight of his co-stars.

“I laughed so hard I nearly wet myself,” says Macy. “My character smashes into a sign during the opening credits, but that was scripted, unlike Tim’s falls. But I love working with Tim, and the story here is strong. And the motorcycles are that much fun. It’s possible to survive them if you’re very, very mature, as some of us are.”

For Lawrence, whose Big Momma’s House franchise rested largely on his shoulders, the appeal of Wild Hogs was the opportunity to work with a cast of equally luminous stars who would help carry the load. But for Travolta, the reasons were more complicated.

“First of all, this movie’s never been done before,” he says. “There’s been The Wild Ones and Easy Rider, but never a comedy about guys hitting the road on bikes. And there was a comedic competition between us on the set. We’d all been in ensemble pieces before, but Tim hadn’t, so his first choice, a strong choice, was to up the ante comedically. And we were all pushing our sleeves up, trying to entertain each other.

“It feeds him, and I understand it, but he was nonstop. He’s insatiable. There were moments where it was too much, but I decided it was the name of the game. I grew up in an era dominated by Sam Kinison, Jim Belushi and Robin Williams, guys who inspired me to get into improvisational comedy. There was a lot of that, in the movie and on the set. And I think it shows. We were all up for it, 100 percent, on the screen and off.”

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