Review: Babe: Pig in the City

Blu-ray: Babe: Pig in the City (1998)

A triumphant homecoming after being declared the best ‘sheep pig’ at the conclusion of the highly successful Babe, is swiftly followed by a crazy adventure in the city of Metropolis to try and save the future of the farm in this charming sequel co-written, produced and directed by George Miller.

When farmer Arthur Hoggett (James Cromwell) is bedridden after an accident which was triggered inadvertently by Babe (the titular pig who converses with all of the animals), the farms finances are put in danger and money needs to be raised fast. Due to Babe’s popularity of being a celebrity ‘sheep pig’, Arthur’s wife Esme (Magda Szubanski) remembers an offer from a State Fair where they would get a generous appearance fee. The problem is that the last day of the fair is fast approaching and they need to get there A.S.A.P. What follows is a fun filled romp through the city of Metropolis as Babe is both helped and hindered by a variety of weird and wonderful animals, and even weirder humans.

The original Babe movie was a box office hit and a lot was expected of Babe: Pig in the City, which unfortunately failed to live up to the financial expectations from Universal films and grossed $70M worldwide from a $90M budget. It has however gone on to achieve much more acclaim in the proceeding 19 years after its release.

One of the possible reasons for it’s financial failure is due in part to the darker tone of the movie. Originally granted a PG certificate, it was edited to attain a G rating and bring in a younger audience, but I have to admit that certain scenes throughout the running time would definitely have younger members screaming in fear and getting upset, despite the inevitable ‘happy ending’ to each of these scenes, but on repeat viewings would be fine.

The city of Metropolis looks fantastic and credit has to go to the set and costume designers who created a world (described in the movie as “a little to the left of the 20th century“) which is both vibrant and bizarre and constantly has you looking across the entire scene so as not to miss anything.

The voice acting is superb and special mention has to go to Glenne Headly (who sadly passed away a few days ago) and Steven Wright as Zootie and Bob; 2 chimpanzees who who take pity on Babe and help him to be reunited with Esme (who has been detained at the airport and split from Babe for reasons that you’ll have to watch the movie to find out).

Another special mention has to go to Mickey Rooney as Fugly Floom; a clown whose joy at entertaining sick children is barely masked by a more sinister character lying underneath.

There seems to be more use of animatronics in Babe: Pig in the City than there was in the original movie, though this could just be more noticeable due to it not blending in as well with the live action. This is in no way detracts from the overall enjoyment though, and in fact adds to the strange otherworldly feel of the proceedings.

With a lead character that you can’t help but fall in love with, supported by a cast of talking dogs, cats, monkeys, ducks, sheep, a curmudgeonly orangutan and three singing mice who steal the show whenever they appear, Babe: Pig in the City is a magical journey for all the family that can be watched again and again.

Despite lacking in any special features, this is yet another fabulous release from Fabulous Films.

Babe: Pig in the City will be available to buy from 19th June, 2017.

Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Fabulous Films.