Tough to categorize, hard to forget, Meathead Goes Hog Wild is an unsettling and bracingly original micro-budget gem that firmly places a trio of young indie filmmakers on our must-watch list. Collaborating on their first feature after directing various shorts, Kevin Cline (who stars), Zach Harris and Sean Pierce deliver a razor-sharp character portrait of a man who slowly begins to lose total control of his body, his mind and his soul. Diving into a pit of desperation and rage, Meathead Goes Hog Wild pushes character-driven comedy right to the edge.
The film follows a lonely twenty-something suburban white male who visits his parent’s estate to spend the day with his golden retriever. While it’s never specifically mentioned, it becomes clear it’s the dog’s final birthday before he’s about to be put down. We never learn the name of the young man but in this early scene it is obvious the dog is his only true friend. This is just the start of what will become the worst day of his life. Having to leave his dying pet, the man returns home only to lose his job at a butcher shop. After an unsuccessful plea to be re-hired, he breaks into his old work, steals as much meat as he can carry and then drags it around in a large bag like some crazed version of Santa Claus. The social satire quickly begins to take shape as he makes his way through the impoverished Chicago neighborhoods offering the raw meat to anyone willing to accept. After frying up a slice for a homeless man, he sees himself as a modern-day Robin Hood and decides to take the rest of his loot into the more dangerous part of town where naturally people respond with skepticism. Prone to erratic outbursts, he doesn’t respond well to the negative reactions he receives from the people he meets. Things quickly spiral out of control when he runs into a mugger, a local gang who terrorize him, and a woman who takes him home, only to get revenge on her cheating boyfriend. Apart from the few minutes spent with his pet, Meathead rarely shows any good qualities. He’s impatient, curses far too often, picks fights with innocent men and acts inappropriately around women. Yet despite all this you can’t help but forgive him for being so lonely and confused. The central character in this dark comedy is so compelling you find yourself transfixed, by his every move, even when he’s not doing anything at all.
Think Taxi Driver and Falling Down with a smidgen of art-house surrealism mixed in.
Meathead Goes Hog Wild was made thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised just a bit over the initial $6K goal. As an underground work put together on such a small budget, Meathead is a marvel. Rough around the edges, the film’s sights and sounds only help mirror the urban decay and the hopelessness our nameless protagonist must feel. Meathead Goes Hog Wild is a haunting, visceral trip through the mind of a man on the edge of his own sanity that features a dynamite performance that demands to be seen.
At the centre of the film is a brave, fearless, animalistic and genuine performance by co-writer/co-director Kevin Cline. As his mind slowly starts to slip he strips himself free of all materialistic belongings, shaves off all his hair and slowly undresses down to his boxers revealing his scraggy, inkling body. Cline fully commits in what is surely one of the best performances of the year and for someone with little-to-no acting credits to his name, he explodes with emotion. As a viewer, you’ll be completely enthralled by his performance and though it is aggressively satirical and sometimes funny, in the end, it is hauntingly sad.
Meathead is a film that succeeds in the balancing act of keeping the narrative moving forward even when it seems like the film isn’t going anywhere. Powerful, gripping, darkly humorous and downright bizarre, Meathead addresses identity issues and racial tensions with aplomb. Think Taxi Driver and Falling Down with a smidgen of art-house surrealism mixed in. All the animals come out at night and this one just so happens to find empowerment in meat. This is one character study you won’t soon forget.
– Ricky D