“Did you ever wake up and wonder what happened to your life?”
This road trip romp stars John Travolta, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence, and William H. Macy as four middle-aged suburbanites from Cincinnati, Ohio. The plot, written by screenwriter Brad Copeland (My Name is Earl, Arrested Development), basically packs in every road trip cliché and “over the hill” male insecurity you can possibly imagine.
Allen plays dentist Doug Madsen, who loathes his non-meat diet enforced by his wife Kelly, played by Jill Hennessy (Crossing Jordan). Travolta plays the seemingly successful Woody Stevens while Macy plays computer programmer Dudley Frank. Lawrence plays Bobby Davis, the first one of the group to get “buck wild” – well, except for his overbearing wife, played by Tichina Arnold (Everybody Hates Chris). Hennessy and Arnold have thankless roles as the wives who suddenly and conveniently understand their husbands as the children add a confirming quip to let the audience know that everything is okay. The one-note supporting cast includes an inept sheriff and twin deputies who have no guns and got their training from a video game.
If audiences can get past the melodramatic tripe, the laughs are well… not much better. Lame dialogue like “That’s not a discussion, that’s a lawsuit” and embarrassing roadside antics can make you squirm in your seat. The painfully cheesy music score, the standard groin shot and repetition of weak jokes wear down the tires quickly. Comic highlights include quick cameos from Hector Jimenez (Nacho Libre) as a convenience store clerk, a singing Kyle Gass (Tenacious D), and a familiar Easy Rider star.
The second half of the film centers on a stranded town stint that introduces love interest Marisa Tomei as a local waitress named Maggie, who’s paired with the only unmarried guy. Antagonistic Ray Liotta (Goodfellas, Hannibal) has no problem intimidating the foursome (or the audience for that matter), as Jack, the leader of the Del Fuegos biker gang.
Director Walt Becker (Van Wilder) captures the open road experience well, but makes a disappointing ending where the weak payoff repeats a running joke, yet again, while the guys ogle women. Recommended with reservations and rated PG-13 for language, sexual content/references and violence. Stay for the ending credits, which incorporate a popular television show.