Babe (1995)

“Baa-ram-ewe, baa-ram-ewe. To your breed, your fleece, your clan be true.”

Justin’s Rating: Iiiiiiiit’s BACON!

Justin’s Review: A modern fairy tale, Babe sets out to do nothing more than spin an interesting and moving yarn about a pig and a farmer who buck expectations and refuse to follow the way things usually are. Set in the format of a storyteller reading a children’s book (shades of The Princess Bride), Babe is separated into small chapters with their titles read by squeaky mice. And if you disrespect the mice… God help you if you disrespect them!

Our Babe, a naïve little runt, is won at a county fair by Farmer Hogget (James Cromwell, in perhaps his most lovable role ever) and brought to live on a quaint country farm. There resides a pretty eclectic collection of creatures, from a nasty cat to an anorexic duck to the king sheepdog, Rex (Agent Smith). We the audience are allowed to hear the animals talk, through a combination of animatronics and computer graphics that manipulate the mouths. Yet the humans in the film can’t hear them, which suggests to me that they are a lesser strain of homo sapiens and must be weeded out without remorse or mercy.

Sweet and lovable as he is, Babe doesn’t meekly settle into his sole purpose in life: to get fat and get eaten. Instead, he forms a connection with the local herd of sheep, and the Farmer gets crazy enough to see how far this pig can go. Can a pig, you know, be useful? Babe butts up against mean creatures and an even crueler world in the process, and we see whether he remains true to himself or conforms.

Surprisingly, there’s a very clever message in this film about racism. Many of the types of animals distrust and dislike the others, calling them names and thinking them stupid automatically. The dogs talk slowly to the sheep (since sheep are dumb) and the sheep do likewise (because dogs are, of course, ignorant). Hatred and suspicion run deep, but the child-like observations of our pig cut through the B.S. to get at the truth.

Of course, there’s also a message about how all animals talk and they have fairly strong “don’t kill us for food” stances to guilt us with, but hey, I like my green eggs and ham. What can I say?

I know although it’s a popular film, it’s probably not too manly to admit that as a grown adult, Babe puts a smile on my lips and a hard knot in my throat by the end. It’s just a good, good film. And the singing mice are on my side, so just watch out. Some pig.

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