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Babe: Pig in the City
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
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