Babe: Pig in the City

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Babe: Pig in the City
Babe pig in the city.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGeorge Miller
Written byGeorge Miller
Judy Morris
Mark Lamprell
Based onCharacters
by Dick King-Smith
Produced byDoug Mitchell
George Miller
Bill Miller
Starring
Narrated byRoscoe Lee Browne
CinematographyAndrew Lesnie
Edited byJay Friedkin
Margaret Sixel
Music byNigel Westlake
Production
company
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • 25 November 1998 (1998-11-25)
Running time
96 minutes[1]
CountriesAustralia
United States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$90 million[2]
Box office$69.1 million

Babe: Pig in the City is a 1998 family fantasy comedy-drama adventure film and the sequel to the 1995 film Babe. It is co-written, produced and directed by George Miller, who co-wrote and produced the original film.[3] Most of the actors from the first film reappeared as their respective roles, including James Cromwell, Miriam Margolyes, Hugo Weaving, Danny Mann, Roscoe Lee Browne and Magda Szubanski with newcomers featuring Glenne Headly, Steven Wright, James Cosmo, Myles Jeffrey, and Mickey Rooney. However, most of them have only brief appearances, as the story focuses on the journey of Babe (now voiced by Elizabeth Daily in place of Christine Cavanaugh) and Farmer Hoggett's wife, Esme, in the fictional city of Metropolis.

The film was nominated for Best Original Song at the 1998 Academy Awards. It was a box office bomb, grossing only $69.5 million on a $90 million budget.[4]

Plot[edit]

Months after the events of the first film, Babe and his master, Arthur Hoggett, are hailed upon return after Babe's success as a "sheep pig". One day, Babe inadvertently causes an accident while attempting to lend Farmer Hoggett a hand repairing the pump for the farm's well. Arthur sustains severe injuries and is unable to tend to the farm; Esme is tasked with tending the farm alone, which proves unsuccessful. Shortly afterward, bank representatives arrive when the Hoggetts default on their mortgage. With the looming threat of foreclosure and losing the farm forever, Esme searches for a solution. Going through all the fan-mail received after Babe's victory in the herding competition, she finds a flyer for a faraway fair hosting a sheepdog herding contest, which promises enough prize money to save the farm. After reassuring Arthur she'll take care of Babe on the trip, Esme and Babe leave the farm together.

At the city of Metropolis airport, an overzealous sniffer dog, who will be rewarded for a "good job", falsely signals that Babe and Esme are carrying illegal substances. Airport security officers interrogate Esme, causing the two to miss their connecting flight. Failing to secure accommodation that allows animals in an unfamiliar city, Esme is approached by an airport janitor who refers them to a suitable hotel. But when Esme arrives at the hotel, she's conspicuously turned away by the landlady. Dejected, Esme begins to depart, only to be intercepted at the back entrance by the landlady, a secret animal lover who mercifully provides refuge by skirting hospitality laws and the authorities, much to the chagrin of her nosy neighbors. While Esme leaves Babe to make a long-distance call home, Babe chases Tug the Monkey who has stolen Esme's suitcase. Following him into a hotel room, Babe meets chimpanzees Bob, Zootie and Easy, along with Thelonius, an orangutan butler for the landlady's elderly uncle, Fugly Floom. Fugly, a clown, decides to keep Babe and make him part his act with the four apes he performs at the Metropolis Hospital children's ward. Babe initially refuses, but accepts when the chimps insinuate he'll be paid--funds he could use to help save the farm. When Esme returns, Fugly leads her to think Babe escaped into the city. During her search for Babe, Esme is arrested after an incident involving police officers, skaters, and billboard painters caused by a gang of hooligan bikers attempting to mug her. Meanwhile, at a hospital, Uncle Fugly performs for the kids, including Babe as the new addition to the show. However, the act goes awry when Babe accidentally causes Fugly to set the stage curtains ablaze, forcing an evacuation.

The next morning, Fugly is taken to the hospital in a food coma, accompanied by his niece, The Landlady. The hotel's animal guests grow hungry, with Esme in jail and The Landlady with Uncle Fugly in the hospital. The chimps plan to steal food from a store, using Babe to distract two guard dogs. When the guard dogs chase Babe around the neighborhood, he falls into the city's canal, but swims to safety. Babe returns to save one of the dogs trapped underwater from drowning. Grateful, the dog pledges to be Babe's bodyguard; Babe then invites all the homeless cats and dogs to the hotel. Babe and his dog bodyguard share the pilfered jellybeans Bob the Chimp stole, with all the animals. To comfort the still-hungry group of animal guests, Babe sings "If I Had Words", which is overheard by Ferdinand the Duck who happens to be flying by the hotel after leaving the farm in search of Babe. All the excitement of the evening pushes Zootie into labor, and she gives birth to twins. The animals cheer at the two new blessings.

The celebration is interrupted when several animal control officers, alerted to the violation by the spying neighbor, break into the hotel and remove all the animals except for Babe, Tug, Ferdinand, and a disabled Jack Russell terrier named Flealick. Despite Ferdinand's attempts to dissuade Babe, the four companions decide to infiltrate the animal control facility and rescue their imprisoned friends. The next day, Esme is released from custody after explaining her predicament to a judge bearing a striking resemblance to the airport janitor. She returns to find the hotel in disarray, all the animals gone, and The Landlady mourning her uncle's demise. The Landlady tearfully tells Esme that her neighbor Hortense had the animals confiscated. They confront Hortense about where the animals have been sent and then set out to find them.

The duo track the animals to a charity dinner in the hospital's ballroom. After evading the staff, and a heroic rescue by Thelonius, Esme and The Landlady successfully retrieve all the animals. The adventure concludes with The Landlady selling the hotel (which becomes a loud nightclub), and giving the proceeds to Esme to save the farm. The Landlady and the animals come to stay at the farm, Esme happily resumes her duties (aided by a reverential Thelonius), and Arthur recovers with only a minor limp. Arthur, finally fixing the farm's water pump, water gushing forth after the spigot is turned on, proudly beams at his prize sheep-pig, Babe, and says, "That'll do, Pig. That'll do."

Cast[edit]

  • Magda Szubanski as Esme Cordelia Hoggett, Arthur's wife.
  • Mickey Rooney as Fugly Floom, a clown and Miss Floom's uncle.
  • Mary Stein as Miss Floom, the hotel's landlady and Fugly's niece.
  • James Cromwell as Arthur Hoggett, Esme's husband.
  • Paul Livingston as a chef at the charity event
  • Julie Godfrey as Hortense, the Flooms' neighbor.
  • Kim Story as Judge[5]
  • John Upton as Boy in hospital

Voices[edit]

The fish are voiced by Al Mancini and Larry Moss.

Additional voices by Lisa Bailey, Balyne Barbosa, Victor Brandt, Jeannie Elias, Pippa Grandison, J. D. Hall, Mark Hammond, Barbara Harris, Wendy Kamenoff, Scott Leavenworthy, Danny Mann, Julie Oppenheimer, Deborah Packer, Roger Rose, Carly Schroeder, Joseph Sicari, Aaron Spann, Drew Lexi Thomas, and Naomi Watts[6]

Production[edit]

Christine Cavanaugh, who played Babe in the first movie, was approached to reprise her role, but declined when contract negotiations fell through.[7] Cavanaugh was eventually replaced by her Rugrats co-star E. G. Daily.[8] The director of the successful first movie, Chris Noonan, was also missing from Babe: Pig in the City, with directorial duties handled by George Miller (Noonan was reportedly not even invited to the premiere Australian screening).[9]

Prior to the film's theatrical release, it was originally rated PG by the MPAA.[10] The TV spots for the film's theatrical release mentioned this rating, as did a promotional poster. By the time the film was released in theaters it had been re-rated as G due to the film being re-edited and submitted again for review.[10]

Babe: Pig in the City takes place in an imaginative, fantasy-like metropolis. The aesthetic is notably reminiscent of Oz.[11] The city has numerous styles of architecture from around the world. It also has a variety of waterways, noticeable by the hotel at which Babe stays. The downtown area appears to be situated on an island not dissimilar to Manhattan Island. The Downtown Skyline features numerous landmarks such as the World Trade Center, the Sears Tower, the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, the IDS Center, the MetLife Building, the Sydney Opera House, the Hollywood sign, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Fernsehturm Berlin, Big Ben, St. Basil's Cathedral of Moscow's Red Square, the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, the Christ the Redeemer statue, among others.[1]

The DVD covers feature a similar but different city of San Francisco.

Reception[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has 65% approval rating based on 65 reviews, with a weighted average of 6.24/10.[12] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade B on scale of A+ to F.[13] On Metacritic the film carries a score of 68, based on 25 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[14]

On release the film was panned by most critics, receiving the lowest marks; most believed the sequel had lost the innocence of the original. Empire's Andrew Collins said, "Where Babe brought deep-rooted joy, the sequel brings fidgety depression" and awarded the film one star.[15] Janet Maslin of The New York Times said, "It will work as a sequel only hard-core Babe fans willing to follow this four-legged hero (or heroine, as Babe obviously is in some scenes) anywhere. Had Pig in the City been made first, it by no means could have prompted a sequel of its own."[16] American film critic Gene Siskel, on the other hand, named it as his choice for the best movie of 1998 over more adult-oriented films like Saving Private Ryan, Life Is Beautiful and Shakespeare in Love.[17] Roger Ebert gave the film four out of four stars and said it was "more magical than the original Babe."[1]

In the decades since Babe: Pig in the City's release, the movie has developed a cult following.[4] Tom Waits expressed appreciation for the film during a 2010 interview with Mojo Magazine.[18] Radio personality/podcaster Jesse Thorn has also praised the film.[19]

Awards[edit]

Peter Gabriel's "That'll Do", written and composed by Randy Newman, was nominated for Best Original Song at the 71st Academy Awards.

Soundtrack[edit]

The musical score for Babe: Pig in the City was composed by Nigel Westlake, who previously wrote the music for Babe. A soundtrack album was released on 24 November 1998 by Geffen Records featuring Westlake's score, music inspired to the movie...as well as sound clips taken from film. The soundtrack also includes source music such as "Chattanooga Choo Choo" by Glenn Miller and "That's Amore" by Dean Martin. Additional tracks include the Academy Award-nominated theme song "That'll Do" and a song sung by Elizabeth Daily, the voice of Babe.

No.TitleArtistLength
1."That'll Do"Peter Gabriel Featuring Paddy Maloney* And The Black Dyke Mills Band3:53
2."Babe: A Pig In The City"Melbourne Symphony Orchestra1:22
3."The Returning Hero"Melbourne Symphony Orchestra1:16
4."Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien"Edith Piaf2:19
5."Chattanooga Choo-Choo"Glenn Miller & His Orchestra* With Tex Beneke & The Modernaires With Unknown Artist3:14
6."Scram, This Is Not A Farm!"Melbourne Symphony Orchestra2:27
7."That's Amore"Dean Martin3:07
8."Three Blind Mice"Unknown Artist0:42
9."A Pig Gets Wise"Melbourne Symphony Orchestra1:17
10."Are You Lonesome Tonight"The Mavericks3:00
11."Protected By Angels"The Chieftains Featuring The Black Dyke Mills Band3:39
12."The Big City (Two Step Nadya)"The Terem Quartet*3:12
13."Babe's Lament"Melbourne Symphony Orchestra2:38
14."A Heart That's True"E.G. Daily4:00
15."The End"Melbourne Symphony Orchestra1:26
16."That'll Do (Instrumental)"James Watson And The Black Dyke Mills Band4:00

Home media[edit]

The film was released on VHS, DVD (in both widescreen and pan and scan formats), and laserdisc on 4 May 1999. On 22 May 2001, the film was released on DVD as a 2-pack with the original Babe. On September 23, 2003, it was re-released on DVD as part of "The Complete Adventure Two-Movie Pig Pack" in its separate widescreen and pan and scan formats. On November 12, 2004, it was re-released onto DVD as part of a Family Double Feature, which includes Babe with the widescreen and the pan and scan versions of the film. On May 7, 2013, it was released on Blu-ray for the 15th Anniversary Edition of the film's release and re-released on Blu-ray by Fabulous Films Limited in UK on June 17, 2017.[citation needed]

Video game[edit]

In 2006, a universally-panned video game based on the film was released on PlayStation 2.[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Roger Ebert (20 July 2001). "Babe: Pig In The City".
  2. ^ "Babe: Pig in the City (1998)". Box Office Mojo. 28 August 2002. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  3. ^ "Babe: Pig in the City". Turner Classic Movies. Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner). Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  4. ^ a b The New Cult Canon: Babe: Pig In The City
  5. ^ http://www.indb.com
  6. ^ https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0915208/
  7. ^ Hayward, Anthony (5 January 2015). "Christine Cavanaugh: Voice actor behind the eponymous pig in 'Babe' and the worrisome toddler Chuckie in 'Rugrats'". The Independent.
  8. ^ Lacher, Irene (20 July 2001). "A Former Phantom, a Future Noah". The Los Angeles Times.
  9. ^ Babe: Pig in the City (2001). Ozmovies. Retrieved 2010-10-02.
  10. ^ a b Marks, Alexandra (20 July 2001). "Have 'G' movies lost their innocence?". The Christian Science Monitor.
  11. ^ Earp, Joseph (30 June 2021). "I Fear 'Babe: Pig In The City' As Much As I Love It". Junkee.
  12. ^ "Babe: Pig in the City". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  13. ^ "Cinemascore". Archived from the original on 20 December 2018. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  14. ^ "Babe: Pig in the City Reviews". Metacritic.
  15. ^ https://www.empireonline.com/movies/reviews/babe-pig-city-review/
  16. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/20/movies/film-review-goodbye-green-acres-hello-wild-side.html
  17. ^ "Obituary: Gene Siskel". The Independent. 22 October 2011. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  18. ^ Zborowski, James (27 June 2010). "Between Sympathy and Detachment: Artists crossing mediums". Betweensympathyanddetachment.blogspot.com. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
  19. ^ Bullseye with Jesse Thorn (4 November 2013). "The Outshot: Babe: Pig in the City by Bullseye with Jesse Thorn on SoundCloud - Hear the world's sounds". Soundcloud.com. Archived from the original on 22 September 2014. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
  20. ^ "Babe PS2". Game Pressure. Retrieved 13 October 2019.

External links[edit]