Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Movie Review: "Mr. Pig" (2016)

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Movie"Mr. Pig"
Director: Diego Luna
Year: 2016
Rating: NR
Running Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

A pig farmer named Ambrose (Danny Glover) is in failing health and massive debt. He makes a last ditch effort to earn money by selling his prized pig Howie to the son of an old friend in Mexico. When he doesn't like the facility, Ambrose decides to take his pig back and look for a more suitable home for Howie with the help of his daughter Eunice (Maya Rudolph).

"Mr. Pig" is directed by actor Diego Luna, who also wrote the film along with Augusto Mendoza. It stars Danny Glover as Ambrose, a grouchy, aging pig farmer in failing health and on the brink of losing his farm. He has spent the last little while racking up credit card debt and drinking to his heart's content. In an effort to have something to leave behind to his estranged daughter Eunice, played by Maya Rudolph, Ambrose loads up his prized pig Howie in his van and heads to Mexico where the son of an old friend has offered to buy it for $50,000 dollars. When Ambrose doesn't like the conditions at this massive pig farm/slaughterhouse, he decides to look for a better home for Howie with the reluctant help of Eunice, who has since dropped everything in her life to head to Mexico to help the dad she hardly knows.

This is a slice of life road trip movie about what we do as we face our mortality, as well as the importance of living in the now, balancing responsibility and fun, and of course, family and familial bonds. Danny Glover does an excellent, rather heartbreaking job playing the character of Ambrose, the grizzled old temperamental pig farmer. He is kind of an old fashioned farmer and doesn't like the modern farming conditions of close-quarters living where the hogs are pumped full of antibiotics. He doesn't like to accept help, either, and despite the fact he is very sick, he doesn't want to be a burden and would rather tough out what little life he has left in solitude...well, and with Howie, of course. It is clear to the audience Ambrose has not always been the best father and grandfather to Eunice and her son, but fortunately, when Eunice shows up in Mexico to help him, he gets an opportunity to reconcile and bond with his daughter while they drive around the country with a giant pig in the van. We want to see more of Danny Glover doing these dramatic types of movies where he so clearly feels at home as an actor. Maya Rudolph also puts on a marvelous performance as a daughter who is both concerned about her father, and at the same time, fed up with his attitude and stubbornness. She has a lot of unresolved feelings about his absence in her life. Rudolph has this unique way of showing exactly how she feels through expression without actually saying a word. Of course, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the adorable big guy Howie, who is a star in his own right.

"Mr. Pig" is a charming, touching story that has moments of profound sadness, mild humor, and extreme heart. The cinematography is beautiful and it really displays the gorgeous, vast Mexican landscapes as many may not have ever seen them. The acting is also top-notch, and we'd love to see Glover and Rudolph stay in the drama genre where they so clearly excel. Overall, this might be seen as a simple father/daughter bonding/road trip story, but it is also very enjoyable and worth checking out for what it has to say about family and relationships, even if that relationship is as minute as the one between you and your pet.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 50%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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