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In my opinion one of the year's best films, I cannot help but pity poor
Universal and director George Miller for the loss of the sequel to "Babe."
Kudos go to them for making a film so original and daring, so out of place
in the family film market today, as it defies almost everything that stands
for these days: you don't forget the entire movie within a few hours;
rather, it stays with you, filling your head with bold and imaginative
images that rival those of the best children's books out there.
"Babe: Pig in the City" is much like many other great sequels ("The Empire Strikes Back," "Aliens") in that it is superior to the original but so different from it, that it is not even worth making a comparison of the two. Why have so many people rejected it? Why was it on so many critics' ten best lists, and the public shunned it so much? It is really rather simple. There is no place for a THOUGHT-PROVOKING family film in this day and age, with the exception of perhaps "The Prince of Egypt."
The thing that makes me laugh here is, teenagers and adults alike are commenting on how violent "Babe 2" is, yet if I remember correctly few or no animals at all die in the film. And no big deal seems to be made when the same stuff happens to human beings in "family films."
To be honest, I don't think they should have rated it G, simply because it seems that anyone seeing this under the age of nine would be confused and perplexed by it. Most people over that age however should be able to follow it well, and understand that the things happening in it are no worse than what kids (and especially teens) see everyday, whether it's on TV's "The Simpsons" (my favorite show) or something at the multiplex (a whole ARMY of people gets drowned in "The Prince of Egypt"- a PG rated film).
In the end I am truly hoping that "Babe: Pig in the City" is given at least some Oscar nominations, especially for the art direction, cinematography, and visual effects- all of which were superb. A great movie, even though it has not found an audience.
This movie just screams: "Give it another chance!"
The original (Babe) was a charming, low-key movie. The sequel has taken Babe to the city, but ignores the charm of his naievity which made the original such a success.. Instead, we're treated to animals being run over by trucks (almost, but scarey), drowned (almost, but frightening in the possibilities) plus a chase scene that goes on forever and in its length becomes pointless. How much nicer it would have been to have Babe be awestruck by the sights and sounds of the city--and how much funnier. After having seen this I would not take a child to this show. An adult daughter walked out and I suspect others did, too.
Yes, the animals are cute, Babe is a charming creation, and the movie looks like a million (or 90 million) bucks. As the saying goes, it's all up there on the screen. But what's also up there is a weird mean-spiritedness and a sense of frantic desperation. I wasn't hoping for a mere rehash of the first film (in fact, I was hoping it wouldn't spawn a sequel at all), but "Babe: Pig in the City" follows the standard blueprint for sequels: bigger, faster, louder, MORE! Not to mention unnecessary and utterly inferior.
This takes place right after the contest of the original movie. Babe
and Farmer returns to the farm. One day Babe's curiosity causes Farmer
Hoggett (James Cromwell) to be severely hurt. The farm starts to get
into trouble with the bank, and Mrs Farmer Hoggett (Magda Szubanski) is
forced to take Babe to another contest. On the way they got into
trouble with airport security and they're stuck in the big bad city.
This is an ugly movie. No matter how bright the picture is, the city is full of uncaring mean-spirited people. It is completely opposite of the nice fun gentle hopeful spirit of the original. The exterior shots have it's fanciful charm, but the interior of the hotel is just completely artificial. Also the movie misses the presence of James Cromwell. He's only in the movie for about 15 minutes. He provides the steadying influence of his acting prowess. Without him, all that's left is the animals and Esme doing some funny bits.
When George Miller's sequel to the popular and prestigious family film
Babe hit cinemas in late 1998 it was squeezed into a crowded family
film market, having to share the spotlight with Pixar's second film A
Bug's Life and the surprising popular cinematic debut of Nickelodeon's
Rugrats. As a result very few people actually saw Babe: Pig in the City
while it played in theatres. In proportion to the film's budget so few
that it lead to the dismissal of several high-ranking executives at
Universal. While it is true that the public cannot truthfully dislike a
film it has not seen, I think it's fair to say that the film got an at
best mixed response among those of the public that did see it both on
it's original theatrical release and subsequently on video and TV, with
many viewers alienated by it and few finding it as endearing as the
original. Yet there have been many vocal and noteworthy fans of the
film ever since its release. The much missed Gene Siskel placed Babe:
Pig in the City at the very top of what would tragically turn out to be
his last annual Top 10 list. His on screen partner Roger Ebert also
found room for it on his Top 10. While not many professional critics
quite shared their level of enthusiasm (although the film received
generally decent reviews) the film nonetheless developed a kind of cult
following who did, among their number being acclaimed musician Tom
Waits and popular "internet personality" the Nostalgia Critic.
I saw Babe: Pig in the City upon its UK television premier when I was 13; not really, in my opinion, still a child, yet not at an age where I feel I had fully developed critical facilities that might appreciate the nuances and qualities the film's strongest advocates see in it. At the time I thought it was pretty much a fiasco. Would I keep that opinion or join the film's list of fans after revisiting it as an adult?
Well I'm sorry to say I side with the public over the critics on this one, and still found it to be pretty much a fiasco. I can't even really see what the film's fans see in it. Ultimately, it's a pretty dull slog of a film, with not enough of interest to justify even its slender running time. Granted, there is some good stuff in here. The cinematography, camera-work and production design are often sumptuous, and far above anything you would normally see in a live action kid's movie. The early scenes, set on the same farm the first film took place in, do have the kind of mythical, fairy tale quality Miller clearly intended the whole film to have, but which didn't come across in later parts of the film. And towards the end there is a imaginatively staged and pleasingly old-fashioned slapstick romp involving a clown suit, a lot of bouncing, a well-stacked pyramid of wine glasses and a frustrated waiter. And... that's about it. Which is not to say I cannot appreciate the level of ambition Miller brought to the movie. I think it's ultimately failed ambition, but I can certainly appreciate the effort. Pig in the City is certainly one of the more unusual big budget sequels out there and about as far away from a carbon copy of the original you can get (although perhaps the mice and "that'll do pig" could have been left out this time). But sometimes you find failed ambition entertaining and interesting to watch in it's own right, and sometimes you merely appreciate it. Unfortunately for me, Babe: Pig in the City falls into the later category.
I also find Pig in the City to be short on the charm that its fans must see in it. After the early scenes we are "treated to" near-fatal injuries, a (thankfully off-screen) cavity check, an group of terminal ill children, starvation and a dog facing something which comes disturbingly close to water-boarding. That's could all be fine in the right context, but this time out Babe doesn't have an interesting enough adventure or a strong enough narrative to get us through it; we just slog from one depressing incident to the next. Do I think kids will be adversely affected by this stuff? Not for a minute, but I don't think they'll be particularly entertained either. I know I wasn't.
Also, I hate to say this as I know they can't talk back and are maybe even dead now and certainly didn't ask for this kind of exposure, but a lot of the animals in this movie are awfully hard on the eyes. Am I alone in really not liking looking at monkeys wearing T-shirts, dresses and lipstick? About the only likable animals who have considerable screen time are Ferdinand the Duck, and Babe himself (adorably voiced by singer Elizabeth Daily, ironically perhaps best known for voicing Tommy Pickles from the Rugrats), both of whom can be enjoyed in the vastly superior first film.
Babe: Pig in the City is well intentioned and in some areas well executed, but if you want to be charmed or entertained you're probably better off watching Peppa Pig!
This is a sequel which doesn't really follow the original, but will bring in viewers because of the success of the original, which we really enjoyed. The story line was far-fetched, and the humor slapstick. The singing mice were cute but were totally detached from the rest of the characters and the story line. Could not understand why they were there. The only entertainment I had was to wonder "Now how did they do that!" when observing the special effects. Mickey Rooney's cameo was sick! It was not clear whether he was a good guy or a bad guy. I was not sure whether he looks that bad for real, or the make-up guys did it to him. Save your money unless pure chaos is your idea of great humor.
Too much slapstick for my liking. And yet much was too subtle
for kids, too silly for adults. Way too surreal. Innocence,
magic, and sheer novelty of the 1st film were inevitably not
there -- and destroyed by the inclusion of far too much of the
Real World. Effects sometimes intruded -- don't want to notice
when a character is a live animal vs. animatronic as much as
this. This didn't happen in the 1st film because it captured me.
This one distracted. Overall, they tried too hard.
babe remains as cute, as are the 3 singing mice. 1-2 real sweet puppies and kittens, and that's it.
during the movie, you can actually feel the loss of direction, the frantic search for a funny slapstick, by the script writer(s). of cos it was never found.
It's so technically well executed and gorgeous to look at (obviously
Miller asked for and got a huge budget this time around) but almost every
thing that happens to these cutest-of-cute animals is *mean-spirited*.
sweetness of the last film is gone, as is that movie's easy-going but
tightly-woven plot. Instead we have Hollywood histrionics and chase
and randomness that just seems like delay tactics for the first 3/4 of the
film. For example, we follow that duck every now and then as he chases
after but never finds Babe. The duck arrives in the city and is
shot at by twenty members of a rifle range. Funny? No. It's done in an
ultra-realistic way, it looks like he's actually injured, there's no
Roadrunner & Wile E. Coyote cartoonness to this violence.
Finally after much depressing animal cruelty the surviving heroes get together and head off towards a final rescue act, but by that point I'd turned off. It involved the farmers wife in a clown suit bungee jumping around a restaurant and a bunch of balloons and other silly fighting. Not a very fun movie, and it could have been!
* Andy Rooney, made up as a clown, led off to die in a stretcher.
* Cute puppy says, "my human put me in a sack and threw me in the water"
I commend the effort to make this sequel different from the original, but
this movie was TRASH! What exactly did Babe DO? Farmer Hoggit almost died,
he had Mrs Hoggit strip searched and probed, missed the fair so they didnt
get money for the farm, he ruined, then killed a clown, had an animal
sanctuary shut down, dozens of animals impounded, destroyed a party, and
along the way encouraged a bit of jellybean communism by forcing (by BRUTE
FORCE) the monkey's to share, rescued a dying fish by spitting him in the
water, and earned a monkey's respect. AMAZING stuff.
Where's the fun? Whats the morals? Be nice.....and you will survive the scary dog chase, the lack of food, the theiving and scheming monkey's, the pig-napping clowns, the evil pound that takes monkey mug shots, pig-killing chef's. No sorry, I forgot. There are some nice people. Creepy pig-men who would give me nightmares if I was 6.
Not to mention, if you don't like monkey's, avoid this at all costs. Most of the movie seems to be an excuse to dress up chimpanzees in dresses, which is, undoubtedly, creepy.
And how were all these problems resolved? What was Babe's solution to the absolute mess he created? Was it me, or DIDN'T he fix things up? Instead, the weird lady who looks like a pencil started a nightclub. And everyone lived happily ever after. Farmer Hoggit even congratulated Babe at the end........because the tap worked. And I guess maybe for bringing 50 stray animals into his home aswell. (He sells the puppies in the first movie, but keeps a monkey and a poodle in the sequel - logic?)
And for those of you who support the dark tone? A scary dog chase IS STILL a scary dog chase, despite the "morals" in the movie. A farmer falling down the well IS ALWAYS violent and disturbing for a child, despite what some people may think. Animals cruelly being captured and abused IS NEVER a nice thing to watch, even if Babe "saves" them in the end. The closest thing to cuteness was the animals walking through a childrens hospital, which still brings a tone of dying children.
In short, Babe earns the respect of a monkey, kills a clown, saves a baby monkey, and introduces communism. It's the sort of movie that critics enjoy reviewing, describing it as "a gem", while they don't realise that it isn't actually entertaining to watch. Bland, pointless, and disturbing. At least they achieved what they were aiming for - a different movie to the original.
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