Babe: Pig in the City
By Nell Minow,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Darker than the original, not for very young kids.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Introduces a caring chimpanzee family, and details the family relationship after the birth of two chimp babies.
Promotes the idea that "a kind and steady heart can mend a sorry world." The fact that acts of caring and unselfishness can affect very positive change is illustrated by Babe's rescue of a ferocious dog, after which the animal has a change of heart and becomes protective and loyal to Babe and his friends.
Positive Role Models
Babe is an exemplary character. When making a decision, the pig opts for the unselfish, generous, and compassionate choice in every case. He is a role model for all the other characters and they become better beings because of him. Authorities (dog catchers, airport security people) are cartoonishly mean-spirited and unfeeling. Parental figures, Farmer and Mrs. Hoggett, consistently treat their animals well and go to great lengths to assure their well-being.
Violence & Scariness
Though exaggerated and farcical, there are many action sequences in which animals are in jeopardy, including savage, chained dogs chasing Babe; Ferdie, the beloved duck, being a target on a shooting range; a fish left to die without water; a wheelchair-bound dog dragged by a truck; officers catching homeless animals and locking them up. Farmer Hoggett takes a bad fall down a well and is severely injured; Mrs. Hoggett is arrested and manhandled more than once; and a clown is carried off on a stretcher, unmoving and obviously very ill.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
One scene shows numerous females in bikinis. Mrs. Hoggett is taken away by airport authorities, and the implication is that she will be strip-searched.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that while generally directed at kids, this sequel is scarier and more suspenseful than Babe, the very light-hearted original. There are a number of life-threatening incidents involving dogs, cats, and monkeys, as well as Babe and Ferdie, the duck; they're in danger throughout the film. Included are chase sequences (some with snarling dogs and bared teeth), falls, near drownings, and run-ins with frightening authorities who capture and cage the animals. In addition, numerous accidents happen to Farmer Hoggett and Mrs. Hoggett, and Babe is separated from his owner for a lengthy period of time in a turbulent city.
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What's the Story?
Once again, Babe is called on to save the day, as the Hoggett's farm is threatened with foreclosure. Mrs. Hoggett (Magda Szubanski) and Babe must appear at a fair to raise money to save the farm. But everything goes wrong. They miss their connecting flight and are stuck in the strange and menacing city.
Is It Any Good?
Families who loved Babe need to know that this sequel, co-written and directed by Mad Max's George Miller, is much darker and more unsettling, not suitable for most small children. Mrs. Hoggett and Babe are beset upon by every kind of predator, and the warm and cozy scenes of redemption and reconciliation we expect never come. Mickey Rooney plays a genuinely creepy clown. A mildly happy ending is almost coincidental and anti-climactic.
The movie is easier to admire than like, which may be why it ended up on several critics' end of the year "10 best" lists, and was picked by the late Gene Siskel as the best film of 1998. The visuals are wonderfully imaginative. The city is a miracle of production design, brilliantly conceived. There are special effects of breathtaking skill and small moments of genuine charm. Babe and some of his new friends are adorably endearing. Older kids and teens who are not too embarrassed may appreciate the film's artistry. But younger children should stick with the original.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about tolerance and accepting others.
- In theaters: November 25, 1998
- On DVD or streaming: May 4, 1999
- Cast: Elizabeth Daily, James Cromwell, Mickey Rooney
- Director: George Miller
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Book Characters, Horses and Farm Animals
- Run time: 97 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- Last updated: June 3, 2023
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