Babe: Pig In The City

Babe: Pig In The City

****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

It is darker in the city, as if the world balances between make-believe and nightmare. When you come from the farm, as Babe does, where gathering sheep for market and killing geese for dinner is normal (Ferdinand's conception of normal is different, naturally), the freaky weirdness of the human zoo can be quite a shock. Babe, being a bit of a dog, bravely goes where his snout leads.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, George Miller does not attempt a carbon copy of Babe's phenomenal success. He invents an urban jungle that could hardly be further removed from the buttermilk freshness of the barn. His city is a mixture of every place you might have been to, including Venice AND Venice Beach, where humans are threatening and animals have to take care.

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The story has imaginative flashes that burst through the mists of fear, as the little pig struggles to retain his courage, abandoned in a house of monkeys and choral cats. Mrs Hoggett (Magda Szubanski) takes Babe on an aeroplane to a great fair in a far away country, after being invited and paid for like a star.

Because the farm is in financial trouble and about to be requisitioned by the bank, this personal appearance will help pay the debts. After being held up in transit at a mammoth airport and missing their connection, they never arrive. Wandering through the strange city, Babe and Mrs Hoggett search for somewhere to stay that will take pets - or rather, a pig. Finally, as night has well and truly fallen, they find a crooked house on the corner of two lanes beside a waterway, where a tall, skinny lady (Mary Stein) lives with exotic and interesting creatures, including a crabby old clown (Mickey Rooney), with his smartly dressed company of trained primates.

The script is witty and fast-paced. Szubanski gives an inspired comic performance, which is so good you don't really miss James Cromwell, who was so memorable as the farmer in "Babe". At the beginning of this film, he falls down a well and takes the rest of the movie to recover.

Ferdinard, the goose, is the only one from the farmyard to follow Babe to the city, because he feels too much like Sunday lunch without the "lucky pig" to protect him. Babe has dangerous and frightening adventures, makes new friends, including a Jack Russell with wheels on his arthritic back legs and a ferocious pitbull whose life he saves. The little pig has a heart as big as Christmas and Miller treats him with sympathy and respect. This is not a cash-in-quick sequel, with less value than a second-hand season ticket. It is an original work.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Porky sequel sees the sheep pig head to town.
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Director: George Miller

Writer: George Miller, Judy Morris, Mark Lamprell

Starring: Magda Szubanski, James Cromwell, Mary Stein, Mickey Rooney, Elizabeth Daily, Danny Mann, Glenne Headly, Steven Wright, James Cosmo, Nathan Kress, Myles Jeffrey

Year: 1998

Runtime: 97 minutes

BBFC: U - Universal

Country: UK

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