George Miller did not shy away from stepping into the massive shoes left by Chris Noonan and his 1995 smash-hit, Babe. Most people seem to forget that the film was nominated for best picture and was a huge success in the eyes of the public, but Miller stepped up to the plate and added his signature flair. While Babe: Pig In the City did not receive the accolades of its predecessor, it does what more children’s films should aspire to– it makes you think.
We open at the tail-end (should I draw attention to my own pun?) of the previous film: Babe has just won a sheep-herding competition, besting some of the most athletic and intelligent dogs that the world has to offer. When Farmer Arthur Hoggett (James Cromwell) is injured in a freak-farming accident, Babe and Mrs. Hoggett take it upon themselves to truck it to the “big city,” a fictional town with landmarks such as the Sydney Opera House, the Hollywood sign, and the Statue of Liberty, among others.
When they arrive, they check into a hotel that doubles as a hostel for all types of animals: cats, dogs, and even a pack of performing chimps. Things quickly sour as Babe gets wrapped up with the gang of chimps and Mrs. Hoggett is arrested. Without any human-guidance, the animals are abducted by, ironically enough, an animal rights group, and are whisked away to a private facility.
After Mrs. Hoggett breaks lose and the animals escape, they are reunited and the hostel is sold and turned into a dance club to stick it to the intrusive couple across the street that complained about the animals being too noisy. The money from the acquisition is then used to save the farm and all the animals from the hostel live there, happily ever after.
As mentioned before, George Miller’s influences are all over this, and, if you didn’t know, he was the man behind the Mad Max series. There are multiple chase scenes with death-defying moments and bleak looks into animal cruelty and neglect. What makes this film so successful is that it doesn’t shy away from these themes, but, instead, embraces it and shines a light onto the plight of animals in a family-friendly way.
Babe: Pig In the City is a wholesome movie with some challenging themes, but if you can look past that, you’re rewarded with some astonishing performances from the various animals in the hostel. On top of that, this film has some of the most impressive CGI mouthing technology in recent memory.
Matt: Watch multiple times Gabe: Watch