Often with the most anticipated movies, like 2021’s Michael Sarnoski-directed Pig, I find that reality is simply not up to snuff to reach expectations. Any Nicolas Cage movie is cause for screams of rage and excitement, similar to the type of performance I have grown to expect from the actor. This late in his career, Cage has covered just about every type of role one could imagine (and has appeared in at least 116 movies and counting, according to his IMDB filmography). From comic book antihero Ghost Rider, to a manic drug kingpin turned-John Travolta impersonator in Face/Off, to a chainsaw-wielding wife-avenger in Mandy, Cage has done it all. Now, he can add grizzled truffle hunter with a heart of gold to his extra-lengthy resume. This gives Cage the opportunity to flex dramatic muscles (and pull double duty as producer!) we have not witnessed all too frequently in his storied career.
Rob (Cage) lives alone peacefully deep in the woods with his adorable best friend: his loving pig. He makes a simple living in the wilderness, giving his product to Amir (Hereditary’s Alex Wolff) to distribute. Rob is content with the way his life is going now, despite a deep sadness about his past that hangs heavy. Everything changes when two masked intruders bust open his doors and violently steal the pig from him, squealing in terror as she is kidnapped. Rob is beaten during the scuffle—he begs for them to bring her back, but they drive off.
Beaten and bloodied, Rob calls up Amir, and he arrives posthaste in his yellow Camaro. “You want your supply? I’ll need my pig,” Rob tells him. The duo travel together in a hunt to track down his precious pig, eventually leading them to the city of Portland. Amir, initially hesitant to bring Rob to the city because of the reputation he needs to uphold, doesn’t take much convincing to oblige. It turns out that Rob has a history in the town, and now his background may be vital to securing the pig’s safety.
My biggest mistake was thinking that Pig would be Nicolas Cage in John Wick mode, ready to do anything and everything to safely see the return of his treasured, female truffle pig. Make no mistake, Rob certainly loves and adores that damn pig. His bond is so strong with the animal that he can’t see straight, heavy with the associations to his wife and the life he used to have back in Portland. Their bond is where this film just plain works from top to bottom. However, Cage doesn’t wreak havoc upon all involved, nor does he ever go into rage-mode, screaming or slashing his way through them. One of the roadblocks for Rob warns “you do anything to fuck with me, I can shop that pig up into bacon.” Rob’s reaction here is key to the adoration he has towards the pig.
You can tangibly feel the love for the pig, but does that excuse some of the narrative shortcomings? Like the character of Rob, this is a simple story and as such, there is little action. It is a movie that can be summed up from beginning to end in just a few short sentences. It does not zig-zag—Pig is straightforward. Chapter names are bizarre and vague; the ending is soul-crushingly sad; and a side-story about restaurant fights fizzles out far too quickly. Importantly, does it have a plethora of quotable Nicolas Cage lines? It certainly has him responding comically to an extremely prescient question about his situation. “Why do you want a pig?” Rob replies: “She’s my pig.”
Pig snorts depressingly in theaters on Friday, July 16th, from NEON.