Babe: Pig In The City
Rating -

Comedy (US); 1998; Rated PG; 97 Minutes

Cast
Magda Szubanski: Esme Hoggett
James Cromwell: Arthur Hoggett
Mary Stein: Landlady
Mickey Rooney: Fugly Floom
Julie Goodfrey: Neighbor

Produced by Catherin Barber, Barbara Gibbs, Colin Gibson, Bill Miller, George Miller, Doug Mitchell, Guy Norris and P.J. Voeten; Directed by George Miller; Screenwritten by George Miller, Judy Morris and Mark Lamprell

Review Uploaded
1/22/99

Written by DAVID KEYES

"Babe: Pig In The City" is what great sequels are all about. It reminded me to an extent of "Scream 2," the horror sequel that literally defined how good sequels can be after the success of their predecessors. The only difference is, both "Scream" pictures were troubled with some little problems. "Babe"s producer and "Pig In The City"s director, George Miller, doesn't make the sequel in the style or mood of the original picture. He reconstructs the entire theme of Babe as a hero, the setting of the story, and the evolution of the film's plot structure so that they don't feel like duplicates of what went on in the first movie. It's a completely new experience for the audience and the film's characters, and virtually, one of the best sequels that has ever come along in the past decade.

Sadly, though, the film received some (if not several) very negative reviews, and turned up little money at the box office. It was neglected for supposedly being 'too dark' for children to handle. I have no doubt that such a movie might make small children weep or cower down in their seats, but what did you expect? Most of the great children's movies had that aspect of darkness and cruelty woven into their stories. Think of the older Disney cartoons: Bambi's mother was killed, innocent children were changed to donkeys at Pleasure Island, Pinocchio was chased by Monstro the whale, Snow White bit an apple and died, and an evil queen transformed herself into a hideous hag. All of these events would likely leave your child running into the other room with tears streaming down their face. But it's a way to expose them to the harshness of real life. Filmmakers have found that the way to get to them is by taking darker elements and planting them into the movies they find appealing, like cartoons, animal movies, and etc. Why do you think those old and dark Disney movies are considered to be Masterpieces? For their names?

But still, for some unexplainable reason, "Babe: Pig In The City" was neglected by critics and viewers. All of it seems to harsh and unfair. This is a magical, beautiful, fun, humorous, and often incredible movie. They say that good movies can never have sequels better than the original, but now we have proof that the rule is false.

The film opens with an accurate note from the narrator. He says that the "first hazard for a returning hero is fame." After we are taken back into the landscapes of farmer Hoggett's farm, Babe and he are celebrating their recent victory at the sheep-dog championship at the town fair. After a freak accident leaves Mr. Hoggett in a wheelchair, the farm is in serious trouble since the farmer is unable to work and cannot pay his bills. Esme, Hoggett's wife, and Babe pack up and head to the city where they hope that they can make money to save the farm. This is, after all, Babe, that brave and ambitious porker who wanted nothing more than to prove in the first movie that pigs do have a purpose on this Earth other than leaving table scraps for the other barnyard animals.

But then, after another accident in which Esme ends up being suspected of drug possession, they miss their flight and wind up stranded in a city. Oh, and this city is an unnamed wonder. Within its skyline are dozens of worldwide landmarks taken from Earth's other big cities, like the Space Needle, the Hollywood Sign, and, of course, everyone's favorite, the Statue of Liberty. The site of it is so mesmerizing that it rivals the other creative cities or landmarks that have shown up in past movies.

Anyways, within the city, they encounter a boarding house for animals. The owner apparently thinks that god's little creatures deserve equal rights when it comes to room and food, too. Inside, we meet several talking animals, like chimpanzees, cats, and so on. The humans in the picture receive less attention so that the animals can carry the movie. Also back (besides Babe) is Ferdinand the duck, who, after his appearance in the original film, deserves a film franchise all by himself. He has the kind of appeal that characters like Jiminy Cricket and Pluto had in the old Disney cartoons, and thanks to a hefty script, he's just as entertaining and memorable as he was in the first film.

The only thing you can bring yourself to hate about the movie is the fact that the studio released it during the same weekend as Disney's "A Bug's Life." You should never release a kids' movie at the same time as another kids' movie, especially when Disney is involved. You know what movie audiences will flock to. Disney is a big-name for our youth, and even though most have been exposed to the original "Babe" film in the past, wouldn't they rather see talking insects than talking pigs again?

Maybe, if they had delayed or pushed the opening of the movie with a two-three week difference from Disney's, something could have been done with it. I'm not one to believe that the supposedly "dark elements" could frighten most of them away. Even so, this is a movie for adults to admire; it is a more grown-up, serious, and yet playful continuation of everyone's favorite 'gallant pig.' Despite what might have happened to the movie financially, it is great. That rare sequel that is better than the first has shown up for the first time in years.

It's just a shame that the movie won't be bringing home the bacon it deserves.


1999, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org. Please e-mail the author here if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.
 
 
           
     
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