Pounds for Piggies, by Ash Ogden & Lee Wardell, is a few things. On the surface it's a darkly funny story about a collector of the old Nat West piggie banks. When you look this particular gift-piggie in the mouth, it becomes an amusingly unsettling lament on obsession and where it takes us.
The real victory in Pounds for Piggies is you come away feeling that either interpretation is just as satisfying. If you got both, then brilliant, but the film observes The Collector of the sought-after piggie banks with something of a wry inevitability. You are given permission to view and take away from it whatever you want.
Just what would you do for your obsession? Well it seems quite a lot! Rather than explore the idea in a grueling cautionary tale - a la Requiem for a Dream - Pounds for Piggies looks with an ethereal and playful eye.
Once the Mcpiggin (or mcguffin) has been set up, our protagonist is offered a way to complete his collection. Just what happened to the missing baby-piggie bank we see in the childhood picture we'll never know. Yet we understand it's importance to him, even if we didn't understand why.
As much as the film's eye is a jaunty matter-of-fact observation, it's clever enough to turn the tables. The pivotal scene in Pounds for Piggies is a mixture of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Jungle Book and Eyes Wide Shut. Just what is this place that seemed the answer to our protagonists piggie-prayers? Why are these people wearing animal masks and what's the arrangement? It smells of irreverent shame and humorous bemusement.
Although you may not get all of your answers, the one we care about the most is uncomfortably alluded to. More so because we have all been there...well, maybe not there(!). The dark fantasy of Animal Farm mixed with Jumanji, is perhaps best left alone. But we know what it's like to stretch the boundaries of our morality to get something we want, or at the very least consider it. Even though he's closer to the prize, disheveled, a wad of notes stuffed into his palm, The Collector is ejected from this clandestine club and walks bewildered in the cold light of day. It's a great coup, and even more so for how the third act turns out - no spoilers here!
As with all shorts, the balance can be hard to get right. With character and story to juggle in a fraction of what can be achieved in a feature length running time, the narrative wheels can fall off quite quickly. But pounds for piggies manages offer you something complete come credit roll. The punchline is faithful to the boundary it sets for itself and ultimately gratifying - Even if The Collector isn't.
It's a great little oddity. We'd like to see more from these boys.
You can watch the trailer here: