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Babe: Pig in the City

Rated G Starring Magda Szubanski, James Cromwell, Mary Stein and Mickey Rooney
Babe voiced by E.G. Bailey
Written by George Miller, Judy Morris and Mark Lamprell
Directed by George Miller
website: http//www.babeinthecity.com

IN SHORT: Great for Kidlets. Way too much for Cranky.

That Cranky survived the first five minutes of Babe: Pig in the City, in which beloved Farmer Hoggett (James Cromwell) gets a water pump dropped on his head (in a manner not all that different from the streetlamp that broke Cranky's neck ten years back) without flashbacks and hysteria is a testament to how well he's recovered from that traumatic experience. That Cranky liked Babe: Pig in the City is also pretty good, since he didn't like the first one. Indeed, Farmer Hoggett is such a minor part of this sequel that, had you missed the first one entirely, you wouldn't have missed the man at all.

Babe: Pig in the City is a good sequel because you don't need to know anything of the first movie to enjoy it (and while the other farm animals make cameo appearances, only Ferdinand and the singing mice have significant parts in this flick). Like most sequels, this flick tries to hard to top everything it did in the first one that it goes way overboard. That's from an adult perspective. My niece and nephew, ages 6 and 8, would have been enthralled.

If you walked in late, your narrator Roscoe Lee Browne informs you that Babe is a pig that thinks it's a sheep dog. It won a competition and so saved itself from becoming dinner. This pig is an overachiever and in trying to help Farmer Hoggett fix his well almost kills the dude. The bank threatens to foreclose. Mrs. Farmer Hoggett (Magda Szubanski), "a serial killer" according to supporting animal Ferdinand the Goose, takes Babe across the ocean to exhibit at a State Fair. This will bring a big appearance fee and save the farm. While in customs, Babe befriends a drug sniffing dog named Snoop (voiced by Bill Capizzi) and before you know it, it's stripsearch time for Mrs. Farmer Hoggett. They've missed the fair and are stuck in the city for two days until the next plane. Which is where the fun begins.

The city that has been constructed for the film by Roger Ford looks like something out of a pop-up book. It has canals like Venice, sits on a bay overlooking the mainland which has the Hollywood sign on one end and the World Trade towers on the other. The entire production design of Pig in the City is aimed to evoke the Gosh Wow reaction, and kidlets will love it. Cranky did, and he's just a big kid at heart. In the hotel, we are introduced to The Landlady (Mary Stein), her uncle Fugly Floom (Mickey Rooney) and the other tenants -- chimpanzees and an orangutan, an operatic chorus of cats, a goldfish, lots of dogs (including a poor crippled pup whose rear legs are on wheels). Before you know it, Babe is all alone in the big city, working for the soon to be deceased Fugly, and that's where it gets complicated.

Ferdinand is shot at. The trio of singing mice stumble upon the cats. Babe is chased through the streets by savage Doberman and Pit Bull dogs (both voiced by Stanley Ralph Ross); his life flashes before his eyes in a genuinely scarey sequence. Parents of teeny tinies watch your kids closely because the scene goes on and on and on, until Babe proves that being good is better than being bad. Around this point Cranky began to shut down, and this is way before elaborate capture, rescue and fight scenes still to come.

No matter, the kidlets are gonna eat it up big.

What Cranky liked about Babe: Pig in the City is that the script, by director George Miller and Judy Morris and Mark Lamprell, is packed full of black humor. Working at a definite adult level is the serial killer line mentioned above, and a near death experience for one of the animals. Pig in the City almost achieve that most rare balance of material of interest both to kids and parents. Almost.

In this case, the kidlets win out. Fine by Cranky.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Babe: Pig in the City, he would have paid...


From an adult perspective, Babe: Pig in the City is an easy call. It will do fine in the theaters, where the outstanding visuals work the best. It'll do even better when it makes it to video as the kidlets will want to see it over and over again.

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