Babe: Pig in the City Jul 28, 2020 10:58:12 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Jul 28, 2020 10:58:12 GMT -5
Babe: Pig in the City (1998)
Directed by: George Miller
Directed by: George Miller
Babe: Pig in the City is a significant step-up from the sappy, sentimental first film, but good Christ do George Miller and company put poor Babe through hell and highwater over the course of 87 ostensibly unassuming minutes. Over the course of this sequel, you see a farmer being maimed with Babe partially to blame, a dog nearly drowning, a fish coming close to a bitter demise, and some initially caustic chimpanzees who, at one point, trap Babe in a toy-box.
Now, I doubt many children would be permanently scarred from the events in this film. However, there are a handful of scenes I'd be weary of showing younger kids. Historically, the MPAA has been more lenient on violent content as opposed to sexual content, but for all the peril in this picture, it's a surprise it didn't get bumped to a PG-rating.
Moreover. Babe: Pig in the City shows what the ethos of a sequel — especially a sequel to a kids movie — should be all about: recapturing the enchantment of its predecessor while inviting new excitement into the story. The first move for the trio of writers (Miller, Judy Morris, who would later go on to collaborate with Miller again on Happy Feet, and Mark Lamprell) is transporting the story from Hoggett Farm to the big city. But not just any city. Take a gander at the film's poster. The background shows a collection of buildings and landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower, World Trade Center, select buildings that make up Los Angeles' skyline, and the Golden Gate Bridge to name a few. The team's production designers commit to dropping Babe into a makeshift city known as "Metropolis," essentially a collage of skyscrapers that recalls your imagination of a big city, especially if you don't live in one.
For the Hoggett's and the innocent little Babe, it makes sense for a city to appear this way when their entire life, they've only ever experienced a sliver of rural life.
The film opens with Babe (now voiced by E. G. Daily, another Rugrats staple, as opposed to Christine Cavanaugh) and Farmer Arthur Hoggett (James Cromwell) returning home for a parade to honor the world-renowned sheep-herding pig. Babe only gets to bask in the glory for a short amount of time, however, as Hoggett suffers an accident at the hands of his prized pig, leaving him bed-ridden indefinitely. This leads to his wife Esme (Magda Szubanski) picking up the slack of the farm, but it becomes abundantly clear early on she's going to need financial help or risk losing the family operation. A potentially sizable appearance fee for Babe making a stop at a county fair could be the solution, so Esme and Babe pack their bags for a stint in the "Big City."
To spoil the ensuing drama would be criminal, especially seeing how Miller, Morris, and Lamprell continuously find ways for Babe to wander into the next set-piece, inviting different animals and situational comedy into the mix. Somehow, it doesn't feel labored. Maybe it's because Miller is patient with every scene, not seeming to mind if one sequences goes on for more than five minutes. You can sense a difference in pacing with Babe: Pig in the City than other kids movies that are paced at lightning speed and run the risk of leaving you behind in a fog of apathy. On one hand, it's hard to believe the mastermind behind the Mad Max series made this film, and on another, you can see the parallels of suspense-laden action, only this time for a different audience.
It also helps that Miller is so skilled when it comes to crafting a scene and turning it into a minefield of potential hazards. There's no better example than a ballroom sequence during the climax that involves a woman wearing inflatable pants, swinging from streamers and narrowly avoiding a tower of champagne glasses and a wedding cake. Moments like these are ingenuous because they add suspense to a formula that was a bit too sweet and storybook the first time around. The sentimentality is still present in Babe: Pig in the City, but with an unfamiliar setting and a new band of memorable supporting characters (including the return of Ferdinand the duck, by far my favorite), we see the stakes rise before our eyes. The selflessness Babe so frequently exhibits despite being known as the runt of the farm for the duration of his time with the Hoggett family shows not only his maturation but makes him a strong role model for children and adults alike. This is what a sequel is all about.
NOTE: My review of Babe: stevethemovieman.proboards.com/thread/6476/babe-1995
Starring: Magda Szubanski, James Cromwell, Mickey Rooney, and Mary Stein. Voiced by: E. G. Daily, Danny Mann, Glenne Headly, Steven Wright, and James Cosmo. Narrated by: Roscoe Lee Browne. Directed by: George Miller.