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With: James Cromwell, Magda Szubanski, voices of E.G. Daly, Hugo Weaving, Miriam Margolyes, Christine Cavanaugh
Written by: George Miller, Chris Noonan, based on the novel "The Sheep-Pig" by Dick King-Smith
Directed by: Chris Noonan
MPAA Rating: G
Running Time: 89
Date: 08/03/1995

Babe (1995)

4 Stars (out of 4)

That'll Do, Pig

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Babe is the story of a little pig (voiced by E. G. Daily), won by Farmer Hoggett (James Cromwell) at a state fair to be raised for Christmas dinner. By the time Christmas comes around, Hoggett and his wife (Magda Szubanski) decide to keep him to exhibit him in the fair. Before the fair comes along, Babe expresses an interest, and a talent, in sheepdogging, a talent that the farmer (called "the Boss" by the animals) picks up on. When his prize sheepdog is put out of commission, he enters Babe in a sheepdog contest.

The animals in the movie were done by Jim Henson's creature workshop, and it's hard to tell if they are puppets, real animals, or special effects (they're actually made up of all three). But it doesn't matter, because, like in Star Wars, the special effects take a back seat to the story. This is a phenomenon that Hollywood has forgotten completely about.

The story, by George Miller (of Mad Max fame) is loaded with little jokes. The farmer doesn't ever fit through a doorway. The housecat calls the farmer's wife "boss" and the farmer the "boss' husband." Three field mice sing little songs during the movie's various chapter breaks. Besides the humor, there are great thrills and drama that folks of any age will care about.

Does Babe have any really annoying, goody-goody little kids (a la Free Willy)? Well, the kids in this movie are pretty vile, but in a funny way. And they're only on screen a merciful two or three minutes.

Any jaded audience member will notice about five times the movie might have made a wrong turn, but doesn't. Directed by Chris Noonan, it's a great dancer that keeps pulling back from the edge of disaster. It has been so long since I've genuinely cared about movie characters in a lighthearted story like this that I nearly wept with joy. Babe deserves a proud place next to movies like: The Wizard of Oz, The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, The Muppet Movie, E.T., and The Witches.

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