Volume 92, Issue 50
Wednesday, December 2, 1998
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Second Babe paints city red
Photo by Rhythm & Hues
By Terry Warne
"Dogs look up to us, cats look down on us and pigs look on us as equals," Winston Churchill once said. After seeing Babe: Pig in the City, only one conclusion can be drawn everyone should act like the pig. Babe is first class family entertainment.
This movie is the sort of sweet, wholesome entertainment which acts as a repellent for most university students. However, if all attitudes are checked at the door and the movie is approached with an open mind, viewers will be pleasantly surprised.
The sequel to the Academy Award winning Babe sees the famous pig leaving the comfortable confines of his farm and making for the big city with a human in tow. The Hoggett farm has fallen on hard times since the original film and Babe must save it by earning appearance fees at state fairs herding sheep.
In this type of movie, the plot is secondary to the antics and foibles of the outrageous assortment of characters. Babe is joined, among others, by a family of chimpanzees, an orang-utan, an operatic choir of felines, a duck and a dog whose arthritic hind legs are mounted on wheels. Through the course of the movie, each character must come to terms with themselves and their surroundings, eventually becoming a better animal as a result of Babe's influence.
What is so wonderful about these animal characters is the reality instilled in them. With computer animation moving their mouths as they talk, it is easy to forget they are only animals. Credit for this effect goes to the voice talents behind the characters, including Steven Wright, E.G. Daily (Rugrats) and Glenne Headly (Mr. Holland's Opus). In particular, Wright's trademark monotone is suited perfectly to the serene look of his chimp character.
Another star of the movie is the fairy tale city visited by Babe. The city is full of marvels, including the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, the Sydney Opera House and the Golden Gate Bridge. Much of the action takes place in a house within a section of the city, which seems transplanted from Venice, as seen in the canals and surrounding footbridges. It is obvious the creators are trying to produce a universal city to match the universal theme of the film.
Often, children's movies suffer from an abundance of sentimentality or preaching. Director and co-writer George Miller (Mad Max) never allows this to happen. Miller presents his message in a simple way, allowing the viewer to discern it through the actions of Babe. Babe: Pig in the City succeeds because Miler takes his story seriously and doesn't attempt to undermine it with cheap antics.
The final moral of the story is when in doubt, ask yourself what the pig would do.
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