Today’s Prayer Focus

Babe: Pig in the City

Reviewed by: W.J. Kimble

Moral Rating: Average
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: All Ages
Genre: Comedy
Length: 97 min.
Year of Release: 1998
USA Release:
Featuring Magda Szubanski, James Cromwell, Mary Stein, Mickey Rooney, and the voices of E.G. Daily, Gleanne Headly, Steven Wright, James Cosmo, Stanley, Ralph Ross, Danny Mann, Roscoe Lee Browne
Director George Miller II

“Babe: Pig in the City” could be billed as “Babe: Exposed to the Sins of the City.” While it retains its “G” rating by the MPA, there are a few scenes that could have easily given it a “PG” rating. I was horrified when Esme Hoggett (Magda Szubanski, “Babe”), the wife of Babe’s owner, Arthur Hoggett (James Cromwell, “Deep Impact”, “Babe”), was mistakenly arrested and ordered to remove her clothing for an obvious strip-search. We are never exposed to this undignified procedure; yet, the very idea of ordering someone to remove his or her clothing, in a family film, is preposterous. To further insult us, the director, George Miller II, blatantly exposes our children to scantly clad women (in thong bikinis) with the sides of their breasts and buttocks hanging out.

I realize that many of your children see this on TV. Shows like “Baywatch”, for instance, constantly reveal women in this state of dress (or undress, if you will). However, to bill a movie as a “family” film and talk about disrobing and showing women roller-skating in thong bikinis is simply insulting to our integrity!

Babe’s adventure begins where the original movie left off. The now-famous pig returns home triumphantly. Shortly afterward, Arthur is injured and the result is catastrophic. Either he will lose his farm, because he is unable to work, or Babe will have to raise the money by appearing at a county fair.

Leaving their native Australian farm, Babe and Esme fly to New York where they immediately are stranded by a series of unfortunate circumstances.

They find lodging at the “Flealands Hotel,” in a city where cultures and time periods collide. Amongst its buildings one can find the signs and architectures of such famous sites as the World Trade Center, the Sydney Opera House, the Space Needle, the Statue of Liberty, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Eiffel Tower, the Hollywood sign and many other landmarks including the canals of Venice. Here they make friends with “The Fabulous Flooms (Mickey Rooney) and their Amazing Apes” (Easy, Zootie and Bob). Also, among the friends they make are Thelonius, an old orangutan; Tag, a capuchin monkey; Flealick, an arthritic dog who wheels himself in a wheelchair; Nigel, a bulldog; and Alan, a mastiff. There is even a singing goldfish!

Their adventures, at times, seem whimsical and at other times bizarre. But everything works out in the end. There is a happy ending. And the children, at least the ones I talked to, really enjoy this movie. My niece, Nicole said it was “cool” and my nephew said he liked the way the pig told the bully, “I may be a pig, but I can be ferocious.”

In spite of this, there is a dark side to this movie! There is a scene in which a dog is seen convulsing as he dies. In another scene, a Pitbull is seen drowning. Thankfully, he is rescued before his life is ended. There are other scenes depicting near-death experiences. Most of the kids did not seem to be affected by these scenes; but it did seem to me to be a little overdone, for a children’s movie. Furthermore, some parents may be appalled to learn that the dog, which dies, is revived when another dog pleads for him to live and not die. While many adults will readily pick up on the New Age belief in reincarnation, the children I talked to only viewed it as a dog, who was dreaming because he was injured. They did not understand that he had died and went to doggie heaven. And they certainly did not understand that he was resurrected/reincarnated.

If you go to see this movie, please take the time to tell your children about God’s wonderful plan of salvation. Explain to them about His divine protection of us and about life after death. It will be time well spent!

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
I took my children and nieces and nephews to see this movie over the Thanksgiving holidays. Their ages ranged from 9 to 13, none of them cared for it. I was VERY disappointed in the movie as a whole. It was dark and scary and made little sense. The scenes I was most disappointed in were also the ones showing the women in the street wearing little as well as the “near death” scenes of some of the animals.

It was overall a depressing movie except at the very end… “According to the film’s press kit Miller (the director) states: “You can’t soft pedal, especially with kids. They too, live in a world where with every bit of joy, there’s sadness, with every life, there’s death. You must deal with both sides or the piece is not whole.”

This is a summary of the feeling of the movie. While this statement may be true, my feeling is that the younger kids and their parents that this movie will attract will be quite disappointed in the movie.

When I take my kids to the movies I want it to be a positive experience. This was not that type of experience, I left the theater feeling not only that I wasted my money but as a parent I failed to protect them from the negative influences that so predominate in our world today.

There are enough negative impacts on our kids today, we don’t need to add to it. While there was some redeeming qualities at the end, they are overridden by the dark theme through out the rest of the movie. Overall, I was very disappointed and would not recommend this movie for anyone. I would also strongly recommend against renting or purchasing for your kids to be able to watch it over and over again.
John Thornberry, age 39
I was very disturbed by “Babe: Pig in the City.” The original “Babe” was a sweet, well-crafted story that evoked much emotion in myself and my family. It had wonderfully clean funny moments, poignant scenes of loss, and a developing relationship between two good-hearted individuals (the stunningly patient, soft-spoken farmer and the innocent, unbigoted Babe). Unfortunately, “Pig in the City” did not faithfully carry the same feel as the first one.

In an effort to illustrate the chaos and unwholesomeness of “The City” (a synthesis of most of the major cities of the world), a violent attitude permeated the film—very different than the first one. Yes, an unhealthy emphasis on death laced the film, but this “violent attitude” showed itself in the things the audience was subjected to (not just the events that Babe had to endure). The reviewer mentions many of these things. (One thread of the movie not mentioned was the truly depressing and bizarre clown played by Mickey Rooney.) The environment of “The City” could have been contrasted to the perfection of the Hoggett Farm without this dark feel.

I found myself desperately hoping for more moments of sweetness and character development. I actually cried when Babe saved the drowning dog, but these were tears of frustration with the darkness of the movie as much as relief that Babe demonstrated true kindness while everyone else looked on.

At the end, Farmer Hoggett’s loving “That'll do, Pig.” seemed so empty compared to the end of the original movie. The first Babe movie will be a highly regarded addition to my movie collection (that I hope my children will appreciate someday), but “Pig in the City” will not be in that collection (and I hope my children will not even know it exists).
David, age 26