The original Babe is one of the most charming children's movies ever made, so any sequel is likely to pale in comparison. Indeed, Babe: Pig in the City is a letdown. But as letdowns go, it's a delight.
This time around Babe (voiced by Elizabeth Daily of Rugrats) lets his eagerness to help get him into trouble. He causes an accident that incapacitates Farmer Hoggett (James Cromwell). Without his management, the farm faces foreclosure. To save the homestead, Mrs. Hoggett (Magda Szubanski) takes the pig on a flight to a state fair hoping the appearance fee will be enough.
Instead, the two get stuck in a big city while waiting for the next plane. They try to cool their heels at a strange hotel but get separated. While there, they meet a variety of strange beasts. There's a family of con artist chimps and a group of dogs and cats in a bitter turf war. The current residents don't take kindly to the good-natured pig. However, when the animals find themselves evicted from the building, Babe has enough courage and kindness to match the situation.
The new story isn't as much fun as the first. There's a dour mood that runs through a lot of the film. The capture of the animals from the hotel by uniformed officers seems a bit too scary. The ending is also overdone as Mrs. Hoggett practically bungee jumps to save Babe from becoming the feast for a society dinner.
Still, Babe: Pig in the City is worth seeing. Several of the loveable characters from the first movie are back with a vengeance. Ferdinand the goofy duck returns, and the singing mice have a new repertoire (Dean Martin and Elvis both get covered). Joining them is an overly enthusiastic police dog and a group of opera singing cats.
In addition, no one can fault director George Miller (who produced and cowrote the first film) of lacking imagination or the skill to make his fantasies look real. The skyline of the metropolis is a fascinating combination that combines landmarks from several major cities (the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty are both visible). The movie is also beautifully shot, and the talking animal effects are even more convincing than they were in the original flick.
The new Babe may not be a classic. Nonetheless, one wishes all disappointments were this enjoyable. (G) Rating: 7
Everyone’s favorite pig tours around the metropolis in Babe: Pig in the City.
© 1998 Universal Pictures, used by permission.