Friday, September 27, 2013

886. BABE (1995)


Running Time: 89 minutes
Directed By: Chris Noonan
Written By: George Miller, Chris Noonan, from the novel The Sheep-Pig by Dick King-Smith
Main Cast: James Cromwell, Magda Szubanski, Christine Cavanaugh (voice), Miriam Margolyes (voice), Hugo Weaving (voice)
Click here to view the trailer

"THE 'CITIZEN KANE' OF TALKING PIG MOVIES..."

I realize I said I was going to be moving in reverse chronological order and I'm kind of not, but I reserve the right to be a little wacky with the order in which I move and anyway, I'm moving fairly closely to reverse chronology.

I want everyone who knows me, my writing and my film tastes to stop right now and guess what rating I'll give "Babe". Okay, got it? Now, when you get to the end of the page, lets see if you're right or not, shall we?


The film is probably one of the most wholesome of all the 1001 films contained in the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" book and tells the story of a pig who is separated from his mother at a very young age. Just a runt, the pig (later named Babe, since that's what his mom called him and all of his brothers & sisters) is sent to a carnival and set up in a booth where he can be won if passersby can guess his weight. Enter Mr. Arthur Hoggett (Cromwell), a wise, old farmer who happens to know just a what a pig weighs - with or without a full bladder. Needless to say, Hoggett wins the pig and takes it back to his farm, where the pig meets all of the other farm animals, including a ewe, a duck who wants nothing more than to be a rooster, a narcissistic cat and a couple of sheepdogs, the kings of this jungle. Yes, on Hoggett's farm the sheep dogs are the most respected of all the animals, due to the fact that they work so closely with the master (Hoggett). They're feared by virtually every other animal on the farm, especially the sheep, who refer to them as wolves and think of them as nothing more than murderous carnivores. However, Babe takes to the female sheep dog, Fly and in his loneliest hour, is offered a warm lick from her and the invitation to call her "Mom". After Babe is made an honorary sheep dog, he then wants nothing more than to find his place on Hoggett's farm. The dogs are for rounding sheep, the cat is for keeping Hoggett's wife company and "looking beautiful", the rooster's purpose is to wake, the cow's - to produce milk, the sheep - to produce wool. As far as Babe can tell, his only purpose is to provide the Hoggett's with a feast come Christmastime. However, another calling may soon find it's way to Babe's snout.


Can I just go ahead and go out on a limb here? Okay, I will. With the exception of "Toy Story", this is THE BEST family/kids film in the whole book, hands down! Forget "Willy Wonka", forget "The Lion King", forget "Snow White", forget anything else that is aimed toward children and aimed toward providing wholesome entertainment, "Babe" is the best when it comes to that, I promise you!

I can't even particularly say what it is that I liked so much. Perhaps it was the silent, yet great performance from James Cromwell, which provided the audience with a hard character that softened over time and tugged at our hearts, especially at the end when he gave the pig his nod of approval in the form of a "That'll do pig, that'll do". Perhaps it was the fact that the film reminded me of a great, old children's novel, sitting on a shelf covered in dust and waiting to be read to the next sleepy kid, which was a warm and comfortable reminder. Perhaps it was the fact that this is the only talking animal movie that I haven't been against from the opening credits and because it hooked me and didn't let go. Perhaps it was the fact that it did what every great movie has an obligation to do and that's to make me forget EVERYTHING else for just a couple of hours, laugh when I'm supposed to, cry when I'm supposed to and be left with a racing heart when I'm supposed to. "Babe" will take you on a roller coaster of emotions and while your kids are enjoying the crap out of it, you won't be left in the cold, hoping that it all ends soon so you can get back to adult world.


Trust me folks, I'm just as surprised as you are that I liked "Babe" so much, but what can I say. As I said above, it fulfilled the obligations of a great movie and did it quite well. For about ninety minutes or so this afternoon, as I laid on the bed with my wife, cuddled under blanket and with plenty of pillows nearby, I got to be a kid again and it was a great feeling. This film not only provided me an escape, but it reminded me of so many great things, mostly things that disappeared along with my childhood. And no, this movie was not a movie of my youth, as I was eleven by the time it came out and quite over the whole talking pig thing. I actually didn't see this for quite some time later, but never enjoyed it as much as I did today.

RATING: 8/10  Can't go all the way, but I'm shocked it got that high. Consider this a strong candidate for TOP 20 #8. Man, it's going to be funny to produce a TOP 20 potentially featuring both "Babe" and "Taxi Driver", but it's definitely possible.

MOVIES WATCHED: 737
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 264

September 27, 2013  11:05pm

4 comments:

  1. Well, I did actually pause and spend some time pondering your reaction to this one. (I often do when I know what is coming up). Initial thought would be on the up side of reasonable-to-good, a sort of 7 / 7.5 ish.. But then I got to thinking there was a reason for you asking us to do that.. which made me think there was going to be some sort of extreme reaction.. and that threw me.. you could go either way on the cutesy thing.. You could very well react against it a bit, BUT (as i was now looking for extremism) I just couldn't see you trashing it totally (a 3 or 4 maybe, but not an out-and-out zilch). So in my erroneous assumption it had to be some sort of a biggie, I, with some hesitation, went for the top.
    See what I've done there? I've covered just about everything, so I can claim i was right whatever the answer. (or I've ruled out everything and totally failed)
    So I was a little surprised to see 'only' an 8 after that build up.
    Well, it sounds like you two had a wonderful cozy evening enjoying this, and great.
    The book (called 'the sheep pig') was -well, still is- a really big hit over here, winning all sorts of prizes, and taken it's place as a classic.
    And I've rambled on for ages and not mentioned the actual film...
    Well, it will be no surprise that I didn't go for it. The surprise element may be that I certainly didn't loath it.
    For what it was, it was fine.. nice, cute, wholesome family entertainment.. and all power to it for that. Nothing wrong at all.. I just am not all that bothered to see it myself. My loss? Maybe.
    Ray

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    1. Great reply. Glad you took a moment to guess my rating.

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  2. Oh man, I hated this movie so much. I'm kind of shocked you rated it so high too! Great review though, I enjoyed reading this far more than I enjoyed watching that film! lol

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    Replies
    1. lol Well I'm glad you liked the review Brittani. Thank you so much for the reply.

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SINS OF OMISSION - Entry #65: Les nuits de la pleine lune/Full Moon in Paris (1984)

Running Time: 100 minutes Directed By: Eric Rohmer Written By: Eric Rohmer Main Cast: Pascale Ogier, Tcheky Karyo, Fabrice Luchini,...