PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY — John Travolta is scaring the bejesus out of Tim Allen, William H. Macy and just about everyone else on the Pacific Coast Highway.
Hurtling down the famed coastal ribbon with his actor pals on their Harley-Davidsons, Travolta begins to showboat. He kicks his feet on the front fenders. Then he swings his legs onto the back seat, lying stomach-first on the bike. Finally, he stands on the motorcycle's foot pegs going about 50 mph.
When the stars brake at a stoplight, a man in a minivan rolls down his window and jabs a finger at the bikers. "You all are driving like jackasses," he says. "You're jackasses!"
"We're not jackasses, sir," Macy deadpans. "We're Hollywood actors."
The motorist peels out, lifting a hand, presumably, to make an obscene gesture. Instead, he knocks off his baseball cap, which tumbles onto the highway and immediately is crushed by an SUV.
Don't mess with the Wild Hogs.
They may not be the toughest — or most capable — bunch to cruise the California seaboard. But Travolta and his co-stars are hoping Wild Hogs
, which opens Friday, will return a little luster to a genre that sputtered to a near-halt in the mid-1970s: the biker film.
Certainly, no one is proclaiming Hogs
the next Easy Rider
or The Wild One
is a broad comedy, crammed with Disney's requisite cornball jokes and slapstick humor to make it marketable to families.
But the film is the first in years to acknowledge America's resurgent love of motorcycles and the baby boomers who refuse to give them up.
Nationwide and in Hollywood, cruising is back. Sales of new motorcycles hit 1.2 million last year, the highest figure in 14 years, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council.
And among celebrities, bikes couldn't be hotter. Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise favor the racing style of Ducati. Bruce Willis is a Harley guy. George Clooney, fittingly, rides a vintage Indian. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a longtime biker who was grounded last month when he crashed his Harley and got 15 stitches in his upper lip.
For some, motorcycling feeds their adrenaline addictions and James Dean/Marlon Brando fantasies. For others, biking is a chance to duck fans and paparazzi by vanishing into the anonymity of a full-face helmet and thick leather gear.