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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Babe

Starring: James Cromwell, Miriam Margolyes
Director: Chris Noonan
Rated: G
RunTime: 92 Minutes
Release Date: August 1995
Genres: Kids, Family, Comedy

*Also starring: Danny Mann, Hugo Weaving, Miriam Flynn, Russi Taylor, Evelyn Krape

Review by Andrew Hicks
3½ stars out of 4

Somehow, from all the hype, I was expecting BABE to be one of the most entertaining movies ever made. Don't get me wrong, it's definitely ninety minutes of fun for the entire family with no sex, violence or anti-Semetic content (all of a sudden I feel like Michael Medved), but it won't go down in history as any kind of classic, at least not in my book (this book, of course). I'll leave all the jokes about pigs who are one day nominated for Oscars and the next day killed by Oscar Meyer to the talk show hosts who have said it all a thousand times, but I'll admit the concept of a pig as the cute hero of a movie never struck me before watching it, but I now realize it can be done -- and done well.

Babe is born in the stockyard, where sooner or later all pigs are "chosen" to be marched onto the truck to heaven. (I wouldn't call Safeway "heaven," but it's only a movie after all.) Babe is the only pig who doesn't get picked for slaughtering because he's a runt and we all know little pigs like that are hardly worth the McDonald's circular bacon strips they eventually become. So he ends up being given to an old farmer (James Cromwell) as a prize for winning a state fair midway game. It beats one of those plastic whistles, I guess.

The farmer's wife (who, oddly enough, looks like a pig herself) is looking forward to fattening up the pig so she can serve the family a nice Christmas ham, but Babe soon proves his worth in a different field -- sheep-herding. His tactic involves asking the sheep nicely to come into the corral, rather than barking and biting them on the legs (and I think if Clinton would do this he'd find Congress that much more cooperative). He soon becomes the prize sheep dog / pig in the farmer's eyes, taking the place of a bitter sheep dog named Rex. So the farmer decides to make Christmas dinner out of Rex instead and spare Babe's life... I'm lying, of course.

The amazing thing about BABE is of course that they managed to make all the animals' lips move to appear as if they were talking, all without any form of electric shock. It's almost like "Mr. Ed" multiplied by a hundred, with talking dogs, pigs, horses (of course, of course), sheep and a duck who thinks he's a rooster. BABE has a wonderful surreality to it that makes it appeal to children and adults, with an intelligent sense of humor and saccharine sweetness to boot.

Copyright 1996 Andrew Hicks

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