Last night, I went to one of my local thrift stores and looked at the movie selection. I bought this for the same reason I bought a Betamax version of the Twilight Zone movie, for kicks. I knew in the back of my head that this was supposedly darker than the first one. Well, this morning I watched with horror as I saw this thing.
I loved Babe. It had charm and humor and was a classic movie, enough to be in the 1001. This had nothing of the sort.
Babe nearly kills the farmer ten minutes into the film as he falls into a well. Seeing the poor guy all mangled, I stopped eating my reheated lunch. I figured they couldn’t kill off someone this early in the film but still it looked like it could happen.
It then turns into a “Save the Farm” plot without it actually happening on screen. Babe is supposed to be in a competition or something and he and the farmer’s wife go to “The City.” What city, you may ask? That’s a good question that frankly I can’t answer. Oh sure, it has a name: “Metropolis.” But the city includes the Sydney Opera House, the Eiffel Tower, the Twin Towers, some Venetian canals, and on the cover, the Golden Gate Bridge. Confused? Just wait.
They come across a hotel filled with animals. Two people run the place but who they are is never explained, nor why they keep these animals. One of them is a clown who lives with monkeys. He tries to stuff Babe in a chest. A little while later, Mrs. Hoggett roams the streets of “The City” and is arrested, keeping her out of the picture for most of the film.
We see the clown at his day job. He uses the monkeys and Babe as part of an act in front of sick kids, I think. Babe, waiting to be paid, accidentally trips the clown after a cannon is lit, all set to the music used for the kick from Inception. The clown is taken away on a stretcher and presumably dies. Yeah. Also, a dog is nearly hung and drowned. A dog on wheels spins out of control and almost dies. The duck is shot at multiple times. A pointless chase scene occurs at the finale as Mrs. Hoggett swings around on a streamer wearing inflated clown pants trying to catch Babe. I kid you not. All is well and good as everyone returns home and the farmer gets the tap to work again.
This is a contender for Worst Depiction of Animals in Peril in a G-Rated Film with Milo and Otis. But wasn’t the first one dark? Sure, but the need to worry wasn’t as strong as in this film. Yes, there are animatronics but because of how lifelike they are you wonder if the dog that’s hit is fake or the real thing.
There is no character motivation or backstory for the animals or the humans. You just have to accept that “the way things are is the way things are” to borrow a phrase from the first movie. Why are there so many neglected animals? I don’t know. What was with the odd behavior of the hotel owners? I don’t know. Why are things left unexplained? I think you know what the answer is.
I have to give them credit for keeping some of the same material from the first one, like the title cards, the narration, the confusing chapter transitions. The story needs work. Mr. Hoggett is wasted as he’s only onscreen for maybe ten minutes out of the 90 minute run time.
I was surprised that Gene Siskel proclaimed it to be the best movie of the year on the front of the box and a four star rating from Roger Ebert, not to mention other raves from other critics. Am I seriously missing something? All I know is that won’t do Pig. That won’t do.