Posts Tagged ‘Adam Arkin’

Nicolas Cage

“PIG” My rating: C+ (VOD)

92 minutes | MPAA rating: R

If Keanu Reeve’s John Wick will kill 100 thugs to avenge his pet puppy, how far will Nicolas Cage’s truffle-hunting hermit go to retrieve his kidnapped porcine pet and coworker?

That’s the setup of writer/director Michael Sarnoski’s “Pig,” a good idea that takes itself way too seriously.

The opening moments establish the relationship of the uber-hairy Robin (Cage) and his pig colleague in a cabin in the forests of the great Pacific Northwest.

Robin — who survives without telephone, electricity, running water or even a functional vehicle — hunts truffles, the gourmet fungi that grow among the tree roots and can sell for big bucks.

He locates these delectables with the help of his swine buddy (who’s a whiz at sniffing out their prey); then sells them to Amir (Alex Wolff), who transports them in his ridiculous yellow sports car to Portland and resells the delicacies to the city’s finest restaurants.

We’ve barely able to absorb the details of Robin and Pig’s lives when tragedy strikes. One night the cabin is invaded by unseen baddies; the pig is kidnapped and Robin beaten bloody.

Refusing to even wash the gore off his face (by film’s end he resembles Jim Caviezel in the latter stages of “Passion of the Christ”), Robin takes off for the big city, first on foot and then commandeering Amir and his posh wheels.

Amir throws a blanket over the passenger seat in a probably futile effort to keep Robin’s body odor from impregnating the leather upholstery.

One of Robin’s first stops is at an underground fight club — yeah, just like the movie “Fight Club” — where our man allows himself to once more be beaten senseless in return for hints as to where his pig pal might be.

Eventually the trail leads to Amir’s estranged father (Adam Arkin), a sort of restaurant godfather who rules his culinary world through intimidation and, if necessary, violence.

Along the way we discover that Robin was once a legendary chef but dropped out 15 years earlier for unspecified reasons. Possibly it’s because he hated the direction the restaurant biz was heading ($50 for what appears to be a single berry frozen in a cloud of dry ice fumes). Even more likely it’s because Robin is seriously damaged goods.

“Pig” is Sarnoski’s feature debut; it’s a good-looking film if an emotionally and intellectually impenetrable one.

Aside from his determination to get his pig back (it’s his only friend), Robin is a glowering cipher.

That said, Cage has such a commanding screen presence that I kept watching just to see what he’d do next. This one-time Oscar winner may in recent years have descended into hackdom, but he’s a hack with astounding charisma.

As Amir, Wolff has the thankless task of playing a weak-willed poseur in constant fear of Daddy damnation.

Arkin fares somewhat better; though his character is simply preposterous, the actor finds a vulnerable center.

There are opportunities for humor here which Sarnoski studious ignores. Instead he leans heavily on the pretention button, giving the film chapter titles like “Rustic Mushroom Tort” and “Mom’s French Toast and Deconstructed Scallops.”

When it’s over you may crave a Big Mac.

| Robert W. Butler

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