Mr. Pig

**1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Danny Glover in Mr. Pig - on a mission to sell his last remaining prize hog and reunite with old friends, an aging farmer abandons his foreclosed farm and journeys to Mexico. After smuggling in the hog, his estranged daughter shows up, forcing them to face their past and embark on an adventurous road trip together.
"Luna wallows in emotional gloom like a pig in mud, coating the script in a layer after layer of regret to little purpose."

The pig is called Howie and there should be more of him. In fact, Diego Luna's third feature could use more of just about everything, from emotion to pace to story - but more Howie would certainly have been a good start. He's owned by Ambrose Eubanks (Danny Glover), a curmudgeonly seventysomething pig farmer, who prefers alcohol to people and lavishes what remains of his goodwill on Howie while avoiding awkward conversations with his daughter Eunice (Maya Rudolph).

Luna doesn't quite seem to know what he wants from the mood, beginning in darkly comic mode, as Ambrose, in a bid to at least get one thing right for his daughter, heads on a road trip to Mexico with Howie to sell him for a $50,000 pay-out that he can leave her as inheritance. There are some nicely observed moments here as Glover sinks into the role and makes you wonder why he wastes so much of his time on gutter material such as Dirty Grandpa.

That the journey turns out to be something of a road to nowhere comes as the first of a series of low-key narrative disappointments that undermine what are otherwise two nicely pitched performances. The road trip is little more than a prolonged set-up for the film's second act in which Eunice and Ambrose are thrown together by circumstances and illness, leading them to embark on a second, even less eventful road trip that may or may not lead to a tentative reconciliation.

The film may not suffer from sentimentality but Luna nevertheless wallows in emotional gloom like a pig in mud, coating the script in a layer after layer of regret to little purpose. The pace, like Ambrose's unreliable wagon, threatens to stall multiple times as the fidget factor mounts. Luna may want to keep things real by not forcing incidents on the pair of them but what he's left with is a circular talking shop of guilt. The acting is so good - and accompanied by a terrific blues-driven soundtrack – and the direction so in earnest, you feel sorry there's not more that is memorable about the end result.

Reviewed on: 27 May 2016
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An ageing farmer and his estranged daughter are brought together by a road trip.

Director: Diego Luna

Writer: Diego Luna, Augusto Mendoza

Starring: Maya Rudolph, Danny Glover, Joel Murray, Naian González Norvind

Year: 2016

Runtime: 100 minutes

Country: Mexico


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