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Film / Babe: Pig in the City

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Babe: Pig in the City is a 1998 fantasy comedy-drama film directed by George Miller. It is a sequel to the film Babe.

Months have passed since the events of the first film, and Babe is beloved by everyone for his role as a "sheep-pig". One day, Babe accidentally injures Arthur while trying to help him with the well and Esme is left to do all the work on the farm in his place. Things get worse when debt collectors come to foreclose on the farm, but luckily, Esme finds out they can pay off their debt by making an appearance at a fair, so she and Babe go off on a business trip. However, circumstances cause them to miss their connecting flight and thus, they're forced to stay in the city until they can get back to the farm. But Babe and Esme soon find out that city life is much harder than farm life...


Despite its cutesy-poo title, Babe: Pig in the City manages to take an already fairly dark story and turn it Darker and Edgier. The fact that George Miller takes over as director (he produced the first film and Chris Noonan directed) has quite a bit to do with it. It has been called The City of Lost Children — Except This Time the Children are Adorable Kittens, which gives you an idea of the tone. Although at the same time it is much Denser and Wackier.


This film contains examples of:

  • All-Loving Hero: Babe to a subtle degree and pointed out when he saves a bull terrier right after the said dog had tried to kill him, and all the other animals watching the drowning dog retreated from helping.
  • Angry Chef: The fancy party shown during the movie's climax has a few chefs among its staff, and none of them prove to be very friendly. They're shown to be quite rowdy, and attempt to throw Esme and the Landlady out by force. One of them even tries to kidnap Babe so he can presumably cook him, and is completely unmoved by the fact that he's actually a pet pig whose owner is right there trying to get him back.
  • Animal Reaction Shot: After the rubber suit beneath the clown costume Esme's wearing suddenly inflates and leaves her turned into a massive human-shaped balloon during the climax, there are short shots of the animals' reactions. They look just as stunned and confused as Esme herself and the other humans present in the scene. Only Thelonious' expression remains exactly the same.
  • Animal Talk: All animals can understand each other, though their understanding of humans is limited. Humans can't understand the animals at all.
  • Ascended Extra: Mrs. Hoggett has a much larger role than in the first film.
  • Bait-and-Switch Character Intro: When Esme and Babe first arrive at the Flealands Hotel, the Landlady seems like a Jerkass as she rudely tells them to go away. However, it turns out she was only doing that to avoid looking suspicious in front of the neighbors, who already suspect she's harboring illegal animals in the hotel, and she politely lets them inside.
  • Ballroom Blitz: The entire climax of the movie involves Esme and the Landlady crashing a fancy party to reclaim their missing animals.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: The bull terrier who tries to kill Babe, and is then rescued by him, immediately employs himself as Babe's right hand man … er, right-hand dog. Also pointed out in his speech of how it's a bull terrier's job to "be malicious" and that most others would have let him drown.
  • Boring Return Journey: While the movie shows the trip Esme and Babe make to Metropolis and all of the hardships they go through while there, we never see how and when they manage to return home.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Before Esme gets arrested, a bucket full of billboard glue falls on her and she gets drenched in it. By the time she gets back to the hotel, the glue has dried and her dress splits open when she bends over.
    • During Fugly's clown show, one of the gags involves one of the apes grabbing his suspenders while he walks off, dragging him back. Later, Esme, who's forced to wear Fugly's clown costume, comes close to catching Babe in the ballroom's kitchen, but one of the chefs grabs her suspenders and she gets pulled back, knocking them over in the process.
  • Butt-Monkey: As soon as Esme arrives in the city, she goes through a wide variety of humiliating experiences, but nevertheless, she doesn't give up on keeping Babe safe like she promised Arthur.
  • Chekhov's Gag: One of the features of Fugly's clown suit is the trick suspenders that hold up the pants, the stretching capability of which are demonstrated in both Fugly's show and the kitchen of the ballroom. In the ballroom, Esme utilizes the suspenders' elasticity by using them as an improvised bungee to try and swoop down from the balcony and grab Babe.
  • City of Canals: The film takes place in a mashuptropolis that, among other, weirder things, has Venice-style canals in place of streets.
  • City of Everywhere: The view from Babe's window at the animal hotel includes the Hollywood sign, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Sydney Opera House, the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, the Rio de Janeiro statue of Christ, the World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, what appears to be a Moscow cathedral, and possibly other famous landmarks. Signage in the film indicates the city Babe visits is called "Metropolis", which has a Metropolis Gun Club and Metropolis Institute of Medicine.
  • The City vs. the Country: The movie takes place in an enormous city, which is portrayed as a much more vicious and oppressive place than the rural area where Babe and Esme live. While there are helpful and nice people living there, most of the citizens are apathetic at best to the protagonists and hostile to them at worst.
  • Contrasting Sequel Setting: In contrast to the previous film, which took place in a rural area, this film mostly takes place in a fictional city called Metropolis.
  • Country Mouse: It's made very clear that Esme is a rather simple person who hasn't ever ventured very far from her home in the countryside, and is completely unprepared to deal with the bigger and far more unfriendly world of the movie's titular urban jungle.
  • Cross-Cast Role:
    • Thelonius is a male orangutan, but he is portrayed by a female; female apes are easier to train and handle than males.
    • Just like in the first movie, Babe is a male pig portrayed by a female pig and voiced by a woman.
  • Cute Mute: Tug the capuchin monkey comes off as particularly cute because he's the only animal who doesn't talk.
  • Darker and Edgier: According to some people. The original was about a little pig on a farm who was taken in by the female sheepdog and was mostly lighthearted, a Tear Jerker here and there, but the darkest element was when Babe's parents are herded to the slaughterhouse. In Pig in the City, there's a hotel with illegal pets, animal control, a vicious bull terrier that nearly drowns trying to kill Babe, and one of those little wheelchair dogs who almost dies. Terrifying for some kids. On the other hand, in the first part a duck is killed for the Christmas dinner and a sheep is killed by feral dogs and in the second part no animal is Killed Off for Real.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The mice. Je ne regrette rien after Babe accidentally injures Farmer Hoggett? At times, slips outright into Comedic Sociopathy; the mice giggle merrily at nearly every dark turn of the plot.
  • Demoted to Extra: Farmer Hoggett, who gets injured at the beginning, and healed at the end. As well as the farm animals except Ferdinand, the mice and Babe himself.
  • Denser and Wackier: Despite the sequel being considered Darker and Edgier, it was more cartoonish than the first film and features gobs of slapstick unlike the original film and more over-the-top Large Ham human characters in the city in contrast to the more grounded county villagers of the first movie and outrageous kinds of Cloudcuckoolander animals in the city in contrast to the more realistic (if not counting the talking part) group of the Hoggett farm animals.
  • Disaster Dominoes: In the chapter appropriately titled "Chaos Theory".
    • Farmer Hoggett's injury is the result of a sequence of this. The narrator even spells out the various pieces of the sequence.
      Narrator: If only [Babe] hadn't been so careless; if only the weight of the pig and the pump did not exceed the weight of the farmer; if only the farmer did not connect with the platform on the way up, or jam his fingers at the top; if only the pump hadn't fallen off at the bottom; and if only the poor farmer had the presence of mind... to hold onto the rope.
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: Fugly's clown costume has a tag labelled "DO NOT PULL" attached to the back of the pants. When a waiter accidentally pulls it off during the film's climax, he finds out the hard way that pulling it activates the suit's inflating features, which creates more problems for Esme.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Both Esme and Babe are forced to travel so they can raise enough money to save the farm from foreclosure. In the process, both become stranded in a big and hostile new world, where it doesn't take too long for them to become separated from each other. Both have to go through many difficult and, in Esme's case, degrading experiences before they can reunite and return home safely. But in the end, not only do they get back together, they also manage to find a solution to their financial problems with the help of the Landlady, a new friend Esme made while in the city.
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: Parodied in a shot showing the view out of Babe's window, which features a cluster of landmarks from multiple cities.
  • The Elevator from Ipanema
  • Evil Debt Collector: Two arrive near the beginning of the film to threaten the farm with foreclosure.
    Narrator: Before long, two men showed up. Two men in suits. Men with pale faces and soulless eyes. Such men could have come from only one place: the bank.
  • Fantastic Racism: The apes, who wear clothes and are part of a circus act, believe themselves superior to other animals because of how human-like they are. In the end, they discover they can be happy just by being themselves.
  • Foreshadowing: Near the beginning of the movie, Esme (who's clearly not used to travel in a plane) accidentally inflates the life jacket she was given when she carelessly pulls its strings. This won't be the only time in the movie where she has trouble with an inflatable article of clothing that expands after its strings are pulled.
    • Also, the Landlady states that she can't let any of her neighbors see her sheltering animals in her hotel, and implies that if she's ever found out the consequences won't be good. Sure enough, one of her neighbors eventually finds out and immediately calls animal control officers to take them all away.
  • Greek Chorus: The mice, and usually in a darkly sarcastic way that belies their cheery singing.
  • Henpecked Husband: Implied to be the case with Roger, Hortense's unseen husband. He appears to be the most passive of the couple, and unlike his wife, he's not interested at all in whatever goes on in the life of his neighbours. Hortense, on the other hand, is much more nosy and unpleasant, even towards him. At the end she even yells at him after the ruined hotel is turned into a loud nightclub, as if he had any fault in the matter. This is in sharp contrast to Esme and Arthur, who are shown to be a very close and loving couple.
  • Hypocrite: Hortense, the neighbor across from the hotel, always complains about the loud noises coming from it, yet she sees no problems with playing her opera music at full volume for the whole neighborhood to hear.
  • Intelligible Unintelligible: Tug the capuchin monkey can only communicate himself by making primate sounds, but all of his fellow animals understand him alright.
  • Iron Butt Monkey: Esme goes through hell and back while she's stranded in the city, but refuses to give up on rescuing Babe no matter how difficult her journey gets or how much she's humiliated.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Thelonius the orangutan.
  • Joke of the Butt: Being a plump older woman and one of the unlucky main sources of comedy in the movie, Esme Hoggett is naturally subjected to a few visual gags regarding her backside and its larger frame. The first happens shortly after she returns to the hotel, and rips her dress after bending down, which reveals her underwear. And the other ones happen during the climax, where not only does she nearly hit a waiter with her rear while swinging from the ballroom's chandelier, she's also subjected to another public humiliation when said waiter accidentally removes a tag from the back of the pants of the clown suit she's wearing, which results in an inflatable rubber suit that's serving as her undergarments to begin expanding with air. It destroys her pants as it does so, and makes it seem as if her rear end itself began to grow uncontrollably.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Hortense, the unpleasant neighbour of the Landlady, calls Animal Control officers to take all the stray animals that were living in her hotel, simply because she can't stand them and the noise they make. At the end of the movie, the Landlady decides to sell the ruined hotel, and the new owners turn it into a nightclub. Much to Hortense's chagrin, it proves to be much noisier than the animals ever were.
  • Kindhearted Simpleton: Esme is shown to be far more simple and innocent than the citizens of Metropolis, but also as much kinder and pure hearted than most of them as well. Not only is she shown to be a devoted wife to Arthur, she's also absolutely determined in keeping his beloved pig Babe safe, and even strikes a motherly and warm friendship with the Landlandy. That being said, she does have a limit on how much she can take, and at the movie's climax she takes on a much more agressive and active approach to rescue Babe and finally get him back.
    • Babe himself counts as well. He's far less street smart than the city animals, but also much more of an optimist. He's unable to hold a grudge towards any other living being, even the ones who try to hurt him, and even goes as far as rescue a vicious guard dog who tried to kill him.
  • Losing a Shoe in the Struggle: Implied, as Esme's shoes suddenly disappear in-between shots during the ballroom scene. However, a Missing Trailer Scene reveals that they were actually pulled off by a chef and a waiter trying to catch her.
    • A pink rag in her back pants pocket also gets taken out offscreen, but it can be seen lying on the floor of the ballroom in the form of a long hanky chain.
  • Mama Bear: Esme becomes very protective of Babe during the course of the movie and doesn't stop until he's back to her side safe and sound, no matter how much hell she has to go through.
  • Monster Clown: How unsettling is the Fabulous Floom? Let us count the ways...
  • Motor Mouth: Mrs. Hoggett. A courtroom stenographer had a hard time keeping up with her ranting.
  • My Life Flashed Before My Eyes: Happens to Babe when he's being menaced by the bull terrier.
  • Non-Ironic Clown: Fugly Floom, a kind elderly clown who does shows for children in hospitals despite his failing health.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Since adult pigs aren't cute Babe never grows up, despite the fact that it must've been a year by the time the sequel begins.
  • Oh, Crap!: Esme gets several during the movie:
    • When she's detained at the airport, falsely accused of carrying illegal substances and ordered to step into a room for a strip search.
    • She also gets one a while later when she runs across a menacing gang of bikers who attempt to mug her.
    • And finally, she has two during the movie's climax: when she first jumps off from a balcony while tied to the ropes of the ballroom's chandelier and realises just how fast she's going, and another one when the clown suit she's wearing suddenly begins inflating like a giant balloon.
    • Ferdinand gets one as well when he arrives to the city and realises he's just landed on a shooting range, filled with very enthusiastic gun owners who are all too happy to have a live target.
  • Onscreen Chapter Titles: The story is divided into chapters, with title cards (which are read aloud by the Mice) indicating the start of a new chapter.
  • Rule of Funny: During the movie's climax, it's revealed that there's an inflatable rubber suit beneath Fugly's clown costume, which begins blowing up while Esme is wearing it after a scuffle with a waiter results in a small tag being pulled off from the suit's pants, which is apparently enough to activate the inflation feature. The whole concept doesn't make much sense, as the rubber suit inflates to the point where it completely ruins the costume's pants, leaves Esme unable to walk, and doesn't seem to serve any purpose in Fugly's shows. The sounds that the suit itself makes as it inflates and Esme's reaction to it also suggests that it's not a pleasant experience, which makes it feel even less practical. However, it sure makes for an amusing and unexpected twist to the chaotic and cartoonish sequence.
  • Sad Clown: The Fabulous Floom is a literal sad clown.
  • Saving the Orphanage: The plot involves having to save the farm.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Even though the Landlady knows it's considered illegal for her to have animals in her hotel, she does it anyway because she believes they need somewhere to stay in the city.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Inverted; Ferdinand is largely absent for the first part of the movie and then shows up in time for the darkest parts. Guess the moviemakers figured some comic relief would be welcome at that point.
    • Inverted for Esme as well. After she's arrested, she remains absent for a while until the movie is close to the climax, when she's released just in time to find herself in some more slapstick comedy after the darker and more troubling parts. She's even dressed in a clown suit during these scenes.
  • Slapstick Knows no Gender: Mrs. Hoggett gets dragged around in a pretty undignified fashion.
    • Also, while they don't get it nearly as bad as Esme does, the Landlady is also handled roughly by the security staff during the fancy party featured in the movie's climax. And some of the female guests who get caught in the heat of the fight between said security staff and Esme are also shown getting thrown around and having their hairs and clothes dirty and messed up.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Snoop the airport security dog. If he hadn't demonstrated his calling bark to Babe, he would've never caught the attention of the airport security, who wouldn't have caused Babe and Esme to miss their flight, thus kick starting the plot.
  • Splitting Pants: Esme's dress is ripped after she returns to hotel and bends down to examine Babe's tracks, leaving her backside exposed. Later, during the movie's climax, the pants of the clown costume she's wearing as a replacement to her ruined dress are also torn apart and destroyed after an inflatable rubber suit beneath it begins expanding itself after it's inflating features are triggered by accident during the scene's slapstick fights.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: The ballroom's chandelier is sturdy enough for Esme to bungee jump from, but the combined weight of her, Babe, and Thelonious proves to be too much for it to handle and it comes crashing down.
  • Suspender Snag:
    • One of the gags in Fugly Floom's clown show involves his ape performers grabbing him by the suspenders as he walks off, dragging him back.
    • Later on in the film, Esme, who's forced to wear Fugly's clown costume after her dress gets ruined, barges into the ballroom's kitchen to try and get Babe back and comes close to catching him, but the chefs holding her by the suspenders cause her to get pulled back, knocking them over in the process.
    • Shortly after that, Esme exploits the trope by tying the suspenders to a drape and using them as an improvised bungee in an attempt to take Babe back from a chef who tries to steal him.
  • The Freelance Shame Squad: When Esme gets a bucket of glue dropped on her during the riot she accidentally started, the small crowd around her can be seen gleefully smiling and sneering at her misfortune.
  • Those Two Guys: Nigel and Alan.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Snoop the airport sniffer dog. He only appears briefly, but in his limited screen time when demonstrating how he does his job at the airport, he unintentionally misinforms the airport security that Esme and Babe are carrying illegal substances and gets them temporarily arrested. This causes them to miss their connecting flight and the whole plot of the movie kicks off from here.
    • Babe himself is this at the beginning of the film. While trying to "help" Farmer Hoggett repair a pump, he inadvertently sets off a series of events that lead to Farmer Hoggett being seriously injured.
  • Translation Convention: Strangely averted with Tug the Capuchin monkey.
  • Welcome to the Big City: When Babe and Esme arrive in Metropolis, they find themselves getting screwed over by almost everybody they encounter.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue:
    • The hotel went bankrupt and became a nightclub, much to the dismay of the nosy neighbor.
    • With the money from the hotel, the Hoggetts kept their farm from the bank and Babe brought his new friends with them.
    • The chimpanzee family and the capuchin monkey left the showbiz behind and lived in the forest near the farm. As you would expect, the air agreed with them immeasurably.
    • Although the others got a taste of the country life, Flealick found the pace too slow and took to chasing trucks.
    • Sad to say, the relationship between the bull terrier and the poodle didn't last long. She ran off with another dog, leaving him to take care of their puppies who clearly take after their mother.
    • Thelonious insisted on staying at the farmhouse to be with Esme Hoggett, who reminded him of Uncle Fugly.
    • Arthur Hoggett recovered and finally got the water pump fixing again.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The city of Metropolis (No, not that one). At first glance, it appears to be an American city. But it has the Hollywood sign, the Twin Towers, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty. It also has the Christ the Redeemer statue, the Sydney Opera House and the Eiffel Tower. As in the first film, this was presumably done so viewers could assume it could, indeed, be a major city anywhere in the world. (Or at least something like a more real and more scaled-up version of Las Vegas which also has replicas of world monuments and buildings.)
  • Would Harm a Senior: Esme finds out the hard way that most of the citizens of Metropolis have very little respect for her age, and are more than willing to attack and hurt her physically if provoked, intentionally or not. In fact, a good chunk of the film's humour is precisely these fights and the public humiliations Esme goes through as a result of the unexpectedly inconsiderate way she's treated.