'Sweaty Betty' has good instincts for a tale of a hog and a dog

A thousand-pound hog and a pit-bull pup are key figures in "Sweaty Betty," a slice-of-life comic drama that has the immediacy of a documentary. Though it's not entirely satisfying, the loose-limbed feature exerts a genial pull in its offhand exuberance.

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First-time filmmakers Joseph Frank and Zachary Reed tap into a strong sense of place as they follow two sets of characters around the streets, stores and row houses of Prince George's County, Maryland, on the outskirts of Washington, D.C.

Floyd (Floyd Rich) is on a mission to turn his backyard pig into a money-making Redskins mascot, while a few blocks away, lifelong friends Rico (Rico S.) and Scooby (Seth Dubois), single fathers barely in their 20s, seek a buyer for the spirited dog given to them by a stranger.

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Hanging out takes up a good deal of the young men's time on this summer day, but each is also cheerfully devoted to his toddler. Motherless but not grandmotherless, the kids are growing up in extended families — a comforting fact of life that's part of the film's emotional texture. Alert to the details of human-animal interplay and the conversational music of Rico and Scooby's rich (helpfully subtitled) patois, the directors find jolts of pure poetry.

'Sweaty Betty'

No MPAA rating

Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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A version of this article appeared in print on January 08, 2016, in the Entertainment section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Charming tale of a hog and a dog - `SWEATY BETTY'" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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