Picks and Pans Review: Babe: Pig in the City
Why is it that some of the funniest, smartest movies out right now are allegedly aimed at kids? We're not talking The Waterboy (though my 9-year-old niece rang specifically to berate me for panning it), but rather Antz and now Babe: Pig in the City, the often delightful sequel to 1995's hit about a kindly farmer (Cromwell) and his personable talking pig.
In the new movie, little oinker Babe and the farmer's wife (Szubanski) find themselves in big trouble in the big city. There, Babe befriends numerous other animals, including a family of chattering chimps who deserve a spinoff movie of their own.
Just as Tim Burton's second Batman movie was far gloomier than his first, so director and coscreen-writer George Miller goes over to the dark side in this new Babe. But it works. Children are likely to enjoy the movie for the visuals and the basic story (though there are plenty of scary parts), but it is grown-ups who will be laughing loudest at Pig's swell sight gags (a skyline that includes Sydney's Opera House, the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty and the Hollywood sign) and its verbal ones (a pit bull bemoaning his innately nasty nature with, "A murderous shadow lies hard across my soul"). And who, child or adult, can resist the three tiny singing mice, who return here to warble Edith Piaf's "Non, je ne regrette rien" and Elvis Presley's "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" (PG)
Bottom Line: Delectable ham on wry