For want of a decent screenplay…

By Ryan Pike

The sex comedy has been around almost as long as filmmaking. The “bet” sub-genre, in which the lead character has to perform tasks to curry favour and/or win money, originated with Pygmalion and the Taming of the Shrew and reached prominence in the ’90s with such classics as American Pie and She’s All That. Each of these films featured a wonderful moment where the lead falls in love with somebody he has to exploit to win the bet, inevitably leading to the lass discovering the bet and angrily shouting, “was I a bet!?” Rachel Leigh Cook basically made her entire career on that line alone.

In Pigs, the premise is fairly simple and fool-proof. Miles (Jefferson Brown) is a senior at some ambiguously-named university and also a fairly renowned ladies man. In fact, he’s such a ladies man that he’s taken to photographing his conquests to show to his pals the next morning. Miles’ friend Cleaver (Darryn Lucio) figures out that by the time Miles graduates, he could probably have had sex with a woman representing (via her last name) all 26 letters of the alphabet, leading to Cleaver taking bets on whether or not Miles can complete this task. Miles is completely fine with all this until he meets Gabrielle (Melanie Marden), whose last name begins with the elusive X and who Miles’ roommate Ben (Christopher Elliot) has his eye on. It’s made unclear what, if anything, Miles gains from going through with the wacky scheme, apart from being a god among sex-deprived, 15-year-old boys for all time.

The biggest single problem with Pigs is the writing. In short, it’s haphazard. The premise itself is reasonably clever for the genre, but the way it’s presented removes any semblance of wit from the proceedings. The largest detractor is how the characters themselves are presented. Miles is shown to be either daft or mean-spirited for the first half, then suddenly becomes a nice guy. Cleaver is a carbon-copy of Stifler from the American Pie films, except much less endearing. Ben is presented as borderline creepy. Worse yet, the many women shown throughout Pigs are either reduced to notches in various headboards or, in Gabrielle’s case, the closest thing the film has to a villain. Gabrielle sleeping with Miles is the only thing that could bring closure to the film’s wacky plot and her reluctance to get over the whole “bet” thing makes her out to be somewhat of an ogre, which is ironic considering she’s probably also the closest thing Pigs has to a sympathetic figure. The various characters populating the film are all so half-developed and unsympathetic that it’s impossible to figure out who the audience is supposed to be rooting for.

Directed and co-written by Karl DiPelino, veteran of several episodes of the cartoon series Sons of Butcher, Pigs often feels like a really long television episode. If the production had any kind of big budget, it doesn’t come across in the presentation. The acting is hit and miss, too. Jefferson Brown has good chemistry with Melanie Marden, but too often he comes across like a low-rent Freddie Prinze Jr. All Marden has to do is look attractive and deliver her lines. She does fine. Christopher Elliot is too bland to make much of an impression. Darryn Lucio brings some humour to the proceedings and is probably the best actor involved.

Pigs is probably not a film the male population wants to use for a date movie. Most of the plot feels like stuff lifted from better films and the characters are written to be as deep as puddles. There’s no depth to any of them and their actions come across as the whims of the writer rather than natural desires. Despite a seemingly foolproof premise and a capable cast, Pigs will go down in history as a horribly underwhelming film.

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