NO STARS 96 minutes | Rated: G (should be PG-13)
Opened: Wednesday, November 25, 1998
Directed by George Miller

Starring James Cromwell, Magda Szubanski & Mickey Rooney

This film is #1 on the Worst of 1998 list.


The visionary production design was one of the few things this movie had going for it. On video, much of the detail will be lost. Then all you're left with is the highly symbolic story that's far to f---ed up for kids to watch.

Spirit of "Babe" slaughtered in dark, depressing adventure designed to terrorize children

By Rob Blackwelder

If Universal Pictures had any sense of responsibility to the wonderful original "Babe" -- indeed if they had any sense of responsibility to movie-going children -- they would have shelved "Babe: Pig in the City" and filed it away in the darkest annuls of their vaults, never to be seen.

Not remotely in the spirit of the cheerful 1995 sleeper hit about a an adorable sheep-herding swine, this sequel finds the talking pig venturing to the big city to save Farmer Hogget's farm from foreclosure. But instead of light, enjoyable adventure, Babe gets trapped in a dark, twisted, horrific story that includes a recurring theme of near-death: Two humans almost die and various animals are almost hung or choked to death, and another is injured in a traffic accident after being dragged by a car. In the lighter moments the animals are netted, literally dragged away and imprisoned by torturous animal control officers.

"Babe: Pig in the City" is quite literally a horror movie. Terribly misguided director George Miller (who wrote and produced "Babe," which, in retrospect, must have been a fluke) seems to have been aiming for a sustained scare on the level of the scenes in "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" where children are rounded up and caged by the baddies. Why he would want to sustain this kiddie terror for more than an hour is beyond me. But not only does he frighten kids (several broke out in tears at the preview screening I attended), he overshoots this apparent goal by an appalling margin. The result is more along the lines of the surrealistic, European horror of "Brazil" or "City of Lost Children," with nightmarish disaster befalling Babe at every turn.

"Babe: Pig in the City" is an awful, awful movie. A joyless, black, irresponsible travesty, it is certainly the most inappropriate, reprehensible children's movie I can ever remember seeing -- and a PR disaster in the making for troubled Universal Pictures. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see parents picketing the studio on Monday morning.

Under no circumstances would I allow a child to see this movie, not only because it will terrify children, but also because it is a terrible affront to the impossible-to-match enjoyment of the original "Babe." It absolutely ruins the memory of that surprisingly delightful masterpiece.

There is no eloquent way to say it: Do not see this movie. Do not take kids to see this movie. You'll hate yourself for it.

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