A young pig fights convention to become a sheep dog -- or, rather, sheep pig -- in this charming Australian family film, which became an unexpected international success due to superior special effects and an intelligent script. The title… More A young pig fights convention to become a sheep dog -- or, rather, sheep pig -- in this charming Australian family film, which became an unexpected international success due to superior special effects and an intelligent script. The title refers to the name bestowed on a piglet soon after his separation from his family, when he finds himself on a strange farm. Confused and sad, Babe is adopted by a friendly dog and slowly adjusts to his new home. Discovering that the fate of most pigs is the dinner table, Babe devotes himself to becoming a useful member of the farm by trying to learn how to herd sheep, despite the skepticism of the other animals and the kindly but conventional Farmer Hoggett (James Cromwell). Because technically impeccable animatronics and computer graphics allow the farm animals to converse easily among themselves, first-time director Chris Noonan can treat the film's menagerie as actual characters, playing scene not for cuteness but for real emotions. The result is often surprisingly touching, with Noonan and George Miller's script, based on Dick King-Smith's children's book and, indirectly, a true story, seamlessly combining gentle whimsy and sincere feeling. These same qualities are embodied by in Cromwell's beautifully understated performance as Farmer Hoggett, which anchors the film. Despite its unlikely premise and low profile, Babe's inspirational story was embraced by audiences and critics, and the movie became an international sleeper that won an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. It was followed in 1999 by the less successful Babe: Pig in the City. ~ Judd Blaise, Rovi
Consensus: The rare family-friendly feature with a heart as big as its special effects budget, Babe offers timeless entertainment for viewers of all ages.