Wild Hogs, opening March 2. Billed as being about four guys from the ‘burbs hitting the open road, the film’s poster touts stars Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence and William H. Macy, in that order.
Now I know that Travolta has sullied his overall box office average (and sometimes reputation) by appearing in a fair amount of crap. And he’s also shown an occasional willingness to cede top-spot billing; in Ladder 49 to Joaquin Phoenix, for instance, and in Mad City to Dustin Hoffman. (On the other hand, he’s also taken top billing in a few films in which he wasn’t the lead, including A Love Song for Bobby Long.) But second billing to Tim Allen? Allen hasn’t had a live action hit outside of the Santa Clause franchise and, arguably, the utterly forgettable Christmas with the Kranks and the admittedly brilliant Galaxy Quest, which each grossed just over $70 million in their respective holiday frames. Is Wild Hogs‘ billing a sign of Travolta’s slippage, a concession/nod to Allen’s (perceived) appeal to the “Bubba crowd” — via his long-running sitcom Home Improvement — that would putatively support a motorcycle flick, or both? Probably more of the latter, but all I know is that the public at large has had their referendum on Allen as a robust, leading man movie star (e.g., For Richer or Poorer, Joe Somebody, Big Trouble), and they’ve shrugged their shoulders, saying, essentially, “Ehh, he’s fine for the kids, I guess.” I’m still baffled, but I’ll chalk this one up to Travolta’s magnanimity, I guess.