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Haunted Sideshow

Dustin Putman

2016 Sundance Film Festival
Mr. Pig  (2017)
2 Stars
Directed by Diego Luna.
Cast: Danny Glover, Maya Rudolph, José María Yázpik, Joel Murray, Angélica Aragón, Gabriela Araujo, Naian Gonzalez Norvind.
2017 – 92 minutes
Not Yet Rated
Reviewed at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival by Dustin Putman for, January 26, 2016.
"Mr. Pig" is such a well-meaning project one almost feels guilty having to criticize it. Alas, this father-daughter road trip drama is so slight and understated it is in danger of vanishing from the screen as it plays out. The story is clearly near and dear to writer-director Diego Luna's (2014's "Cesar Chavez") heart, as are his picturesque Mexico locations that, for once, are not portrayed on film as dusty, drug-hazed, crime-fueled hells on earth. Luna and co-writer Augusto Mendoza's screenplay is leisurely and simplistic to the point of becoming rote, a predominant two-hander between California pig farmer Ambrose (Danny Glover) and daughter Eunice (Maya Rudolph) traveling down every predictable road imaginable without properly exploring their history.

As Ambrose, a dying man who loses his farm and hits the open road in search of a proper home for his valuable hog Howie, Danny Glover (2010's "Death at a Funeral") savors every moment of what could be his meatiest film role in ten years or more. As the too-often-sidelined Eunice, Maya Rudolph (2015's "Sisters") reminds, just as she did in 2009's note-perfect "Away We Go," what a supremely unforced serious actor she can be. Together, Glover and Rudolph share chemistry, if not the hoped-for depth. As Ambrose's health falters, he attempts to make amends with Eunice—"I was never there for you," he admits in one nice scene—but why he wasn't there is never satisfactorily broached. Personal though this project is for Luna, "Mr. Pig" is simply too plodding for its own good.
© 2016 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

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