I've been a movie enthusiast my whole life and been writing movie reviews for over 156 years.
Michael Sarnoski and Vanessa Block
Just to get it out of the way, of the 17 movies Nicolas Cage has released this month, Pig is far and away his best. It’s one of the best movies of the year. Possibly the best movie of 2021 so far.
I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in…
Granted, with all the VOD, STD, direct to VHS, garbage Cage has sh*t out over the past 15 years, the odds were that he’d accidentally appear in a good movie. And he has, like Mandy, Color out of Space, Joe, and um…
Joe was really good.
Color Out of Space was really good.
Is it worth the approximately 1,400 Cage movies you’ve forgotten, never heard of unless you live in Uruguay, or wish you never saw to occasionally get Mandy, Joe, and Color Out of Space? Not really but be grateful when it happens.
Now you can add Pig to that list. That very, very, very short list.
Who knows, we may only have to wait for 18 more Cage movies for there to be another great one.
Pig opens with our friend Rob (Nicolas Cage- Willy’s Wonderland, an ad you want to skip on a YouTube video, a training video for a local Mexican restaurant, a training video for a local Bulgarian restaurant, Moonstruck). He lives somewhere in Oregon. He lives in a cabin in the woods. He looks like a homeless guy who would ask you for change or act in movies like 211 or The Humanity Bureau.
Movies in Nicolas Cage’s filmography I have never heard of nor would ever watch. There are approximately 1,450 titles of that ilk stretching back from 2010.
Rob lives in the woods with his truffle pig named Pig (Bradley Cooper). Pig is great at finding truffles and Rob uses Pig’s ability to earn a little money using Amir (Alex Wolff- Hereditary) as his only link to the outside world.
Rob really loves Pig and would it be a shame if something bad were to happen.
This is a family show, lest you be thinking untoward thoughts. To address this, Rob says “I don’t f*ck my pig”.
Every Thursday Amir picks up truffles to sell and local Portland restaurants. Amir also brings Rob sundries from the mundane world. This time Amir brought Rob an audio tape.
The tape has sentimental value for Rob. You can see it as he begins to listen. But he’s not listening to it for every long until a bunch of tweakers break into his cabin, take Pig, and knock Rob out. They’re gone in 60 seconds.
Rob’s out cold for hours. He wakes up and his face is bloody. He’s got no pants. Someone’s painted his cabin Neapolitan. The food in his refrigerator has been replaced with little midgets who can withstand ice cold temperatures.
It’s not long before Rob realizes that Pig is gone. And so is the color out of his face.
Rob treks out of his neck of the woods and locates Amir. Amir will drive Rob around Portland as he searches for his beloved Pig. Rob is determined to find his pig in the city, like Babe Pig in the City.
You see, Rob didn’t always look like a homeless Santa. In Portland he was known by a different name. A name that will strike fear into any pig thieves. Rob has a very particular set of skills and he will use those skills to find the only thing he’s loved since…something you will find out in the third act. Rob and Amir will deep dive into the seedy Portland restaurant underbelly.
They might not like what they find, just as long as they find…
What Works With Pig
- Remember when Nicolas Cage actually used to act instead of just going into default Cage Rage? Probably not. But Cage dials it way down to give his best, least Cage derivative performance since Joe. You feel Rob’s longing and pain in every scene. It is kind of like Mandy, but without the chainsaws. The more you get to know about Rob, the more you understand what Pig means to him. His final scene is earned.
- It’s been called “John Wick with a pig” and that’s understandable if all you’ve seen is the trailer. But Vanessa Block and writer/director Michael Sarnorski’s story has so much more to offer than a simple revenge tale. It’s simple enough, but you rarely know where the story is going. You think the movie’s going one way…
- A scene set in a restaurant is one of the best of the year. And better than 22 random Nicolas Cage movies released since lockdown.
- Oscar Winner Helen Mirren shines as the titular pig. In her few scenes, you can see the connection with Pig and Rob (“Johnny has his hand, Johnny has his pig!”). Helen Mirren won an Oscar for portraying a queen. She could get another one for portraying a pig.
What Doesn’t Work With Pig
- A pointless artistic touch of dividing the movie into chapters and having a “clever” title for each of them. It’s the only time you’re taken out of the movie because you’re thinking about what the title could mean. But they never serve the story in any meaningful way except as a distraction.
That’ll do, piggy. That’ll do.
Really 4.5, but you should just see it
Noel Penaflor (author) from California on July 21, 2021:
So did I
Sam Shepards from Europe on July 21, 2021:
I liked it.