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the original _babe_ was my favorite movie of 1995 , a sleeper hit that transcended its target audience .
being a surprise commercial and critical success , it had no marketing tie-ins , which limited its final take .
thus , babe 2 arrives , with a budget greater than the money made in babe 1 .
plush dolls , vending machines hawking t-shirts , and macy's thanksgiving day balloons arrive for holiday money-grubbing .
too late .
this is a sad review to write , because babe 2 not only does _not_ live up to the original , but it doesn't even come to a fraction of it .
i shouldn't expect that sequels to modern fairy tales to match their predecessors' magic , but this film tries too hard , and loses its charm .
consider a driver applying the accelerator with great intensity , unaware that his car is in neutral .
imagine with me , if you will , _scream_'s jamie kennedy , explaining the " rules " for sequels like babe 2 .
( 1 ) there must be _more_ talking animals .
( 2 ) there must be _more_ slapstick comedy .
( 3 ) there must be _more_ songs for those mice to sing : that's cute .
( 4 ) keep the story cards to break up the action : that's cute too , even though " the pig gets wise " made no sense , given the context of that story partition .
( 5 ) there must be action , however illogical , that will conjure up pivotal scenes from the original : the trademark song that nobody remembers the words to , the baa-ram-ewe secret code , the " that'll do , pig .
that'll do . "
now throw in the limitations : ( a ) james cromwell , now a hot commodity , has limited time on the set ( or maybe he didn't approve of the script ) .
( b ) christine cavanaugh , the voice of the original babe , demands more money ( $200 , 000--paltry considering the $80 million budget ) .
out .
e . g .
daily comes in with noticable results .
( c ) george miller , the director , is more well-known for his dark futuristic mad max films and his twilight zone segment , not for kiddie fare ( and no , he didn't direct that _andre_ film in '94 ) .
( d ) the special effects are impressive , _but limited_ .
babe talks , but most of the time from a single shot , repeated over and over again .
( babe is center screen , looking straight into the camera , with a happy smirk--regardless of whether he's happy , or scared , or tired ) .
season now with the " original " elements , which , as we will find out , are straight from the screenwriting-is-hell bin .
( i ) change the venue into " the big city " .
this has been praised as wildly original .
excuse me : didn't _home alone_ do this several years ago ?
how about the muppets ?
even _the bad news bears_ travelled to tokyo .
sorry .
no dice .
side note : to give the city a fairy-tale look , george miller crafted a fantastical fantasyland that merges the landmarks of the world's great cities , and yes , it _is_ impressive .
but this too is over-used , repeating the same view over and again on multiple occasions .
and , for the most part , babe _remains in the hotel_ .
( ii ) given the limitations of cromwell , the human element is taken over by " the boss' wife " played by magda szubanski .
s-t-r-e-t-c-h .
she's not a lead actress-type , she's not funny enough in her physical comedy , and she's simply embarrassing in some of her pratfalls .
( have her arrested falsely on drug charges !
have her accidentally incite a riot with biker dudes and scantily clad babes !
have her bounce around on a bungee cord at a prestigious benefit dinner ! )
i was hoping for a little smirk during these scenes , but i felt sorry for the embarrassment that she put herself in .
i am restraining myself from talking about the dark nature of the film , the violence , the scene where a pit bull dangles from the bridge , head submerged underwater .
even the best fairy tales have a bit of the macabre in it , as the brothers grimm have demonstrated .
no . . . my problem is with the story , or lack thereof .
_babe_ is sent out to save the hoggett farm , but once in the city , that story is forgotten .
being a good-natured pig in the midst of the cynicism of his environs is nice , but , other than rescue that aforementioned pit bull , what did babe actually _do_ ?
without giving the ending away , the farm is saved from a left-field quirk that had nothing to do with the pig .
speaking of " pig " , or , " pig-pig-pig-pig-pig ! " .
the word " pig " is so overused , had they changed it to an expletive , and had the pig be al pacino , i could have been watching _scarface_ .
this is screenwriting ?
further , i cannot explain the deep gnaw at my gut in the many scenes where accidents happen to good people in fantastically elaborate setups .
had it been a cartoon , and the victim be an equivalent of elmer fudd , maybe my reaction would have been softened .
but to farmer hoggett ?
his wife ?
an elderly mickey rooney ?
much too irreverent .
( " quick !
splice those singing mice into those scenes ! " ) .
the film isn't a colossal failure .
i did like glenne headley's schmoozy chimpanzee .
i liked the pink poodle .
the dog on the cart , who momentarily thinks he's in dog heaven .
and a weird looking guy who may have been doubly-cast as an airport employee and a judge .
but most of the time , i was looking down , in boredom , or in embarrassment over the hacked-up script .
them singing mice , those chapter partitions , the proficient acting of the animals-- none of these can compensate for a story .
let me spoil the final scene : farmer hoggett looks at pig , proud , says " that'll do , pig .
that'll do . "
that's it .
hope i didn't ruin it for you .
but tell me this : what the heck did that pig _do_ ?
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