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Babe: Pig in the City

Released: 1998

Genre: Kids & Family

Runtime: 1 hr 37 min

MPAA Rating: G

Director: George Miller

Starring: Magda Szubanski, James Cromwell, Mary Stein, Elizabeth Daily, Danny Mann, Steven Wright

Mrs. Hoggett and Babe go to the city to save the farm.

Babe holds his ground.

Review by: SteveRhodes

Added: 7 years ago

"You're just a little pig in a big city," Ferdinand, the duck, tells his old friend Babe. "What could you possibly do?" A lot, actually since Babe is not exactly your average porker. Babe is a sheeppig who's been sent to save the farm in BABE: PIG IN THE CITY, and he can summon up the courage to tackle anything, even a pit bull.

The second in the BABE series is a complete departure from the original. Whereas the first BABE was a low-budget, lighted-hearted film set in an idyllic countryside, the expensive sequel takes place in a big city, full of urban terrors.

The dark-toned film will probably frighten many of the younger members of the audience, so it should certainly have been rated PG rather than G. With everything from vicious dogs to a frightening scene at a gun club, the movie has more scary images than a G-rated picture would lead parents to suspect.

Even if one considers the show only as an adult film, the confusing script has trouble sustaining its comedic momentum and just drifts along with a series of hits and misses. With the exception of the chimpanzees, the animals are all cute. The movie, on the other hand, would have been much improved if the animals had locked the humans in a cage and not let them out until the filming was completed.

The humans are led by Magda Szubanski as Esme Hoggett, known to the animals as the boss's wife. One of the farm animals refers to her as "a serial killer" for slaughtering the animals for food. Her husband, Arthur, and the human star of the first movie, is played again by James Cromwell. His part this time, sadly, is relegated to cameos at the beginning and ending of story. His warmth is much missed in the picture.

The story has the Hoggetts in danger of losing the farm to the bank. Esme and Babe (voiced his time by Elizabeth Daily from THE RUGRATS MOVIE) set off to raise money to save the farm but get stranded in the big city. After Esme is strip-searched at the airport - why have that in a G-rated movie? - they end up staying in a hotel that illegally takes in animal borders of any species.

The movie is at its best when it falls back on the sweet aphorisms of the original. "You're brave, and fortune, more often than not in this uncertain world, favors the brave," one of the dogs at the farm tells Babe.

Sure enough, when Babe has to go up against the city's chief animal meanie, a pit bull (who admits who admits that he has "a professional obligation to be malicious," Babe holds his ground. Soon, the pit bull orders all the other animals that, "Whatever the pig says goes."

It is easy to see where director George Miller lavished the movie's big budget. Beside the wide multitude of talking animals, which are done even more convincingly than the first time, the city he creates is astonishing. Its dazzling landscape of skyscrapers and famous buildings will have you trying to see how many you can recognize. Among others, there are the Venetian canals, the Sydney Opera House, the Statue of Liberty, the Seattle Space Needle and the Moscow church spires. You almost want to ask the projectionist to hold the film for a few minutes so you can count them all.

It is hard to criticize any movie that has 3 singing mice ("That's Amore" being a typical song of theirs) that read the silly titles of each chapter. It makes the movie feel like an illustrated picture book that your kindergarten teacher is reading to you. Still, for all of its delights, the movie is a mere shadow of its original. One suspects that, if the studio had had the good sense to give George Miller the same budget as the original, they would have gotten a better movie and certainly better value for their investment.

BABE: PIG IN THE CITY runs 1:37. It is a dark and sometimes frightening movie that is inappropriately rated G. The movie would be fine for most kids around 8 and up.