With this movie I officially lost any hope of ever saying I have man points again, it is the single cutest cinematic endeavor I have ever seen!
Screenplay By: George Miller & Chris Noonan
Directed By: Chris Noonan
What I love most about movies is their ability to sweep you away to magical worlds, to fantasies that delight your senses. Babe is a wonderful film that scurries you to a beautiful and mesmerizing world, Babe is the stuff that legendary fables are made of. Babe is a vibrant and luscious picture, full of life and things that make your mind drool with pleasure. I’m not often a fan of pouring on hyperbole, but Babe continues to get better upon each viewing to the point where it’s as close to a perfect movie as you will ever find. All of this from a film about a talking pig, who knew?
The first thing that springs to mind about Babe is how gosh darn cute it is. Lots of kids movies are cute, but Babe is a different kind of cute, it’s naturally cute. There isn’t a moment in Babe that is forced or added on so that we drench in the cuteness. The animals simply take actions and the cuteness rolls off of them. Once you get past the cuteness factor you are struck with the fact that Babe is a very adult movie. No one in Babe talks like the audience is full of two year olds, they use big words, they express sophisticated ideas, they are real beings, not just cute animals. This effect is greatly achieved through the wonderful animatronics of Jim Henson Co., so wonderful in fact that even upon deep search I had trouble finding a single scene where the animatronic animals didn’t mesh perfectly with the live ones. The animatronics function to a T, not only in believability, but in allowing the animal characters to take on personalities. Ferdinand isn’t just any duck, he is Ferdinand, and recognizing that difference helps Babe connect with the viewer on levels most children films never reach.
The character of Babe is the impetus for the story, but that much should be obvious. What may not be so obvious is the myriad of directions that Babe takes the story in. There are moments when Babe is very dark, tackling the issues of death and purpose in life. For people who don’t want depth in their movies those issues most likely aren’t visible, but for people who are looking for a movie that wants you to have fun and think at the same time, Babe delivers. The character of Babe is friendly, he is nice, he is adventurous, he is everything people wish they could be and miss the mark on. Babe is the classic bridge character, the lone valiant character willing to help all no matter the situation and bring every other character to the realization that barriers and walls hold society back. Growth will only occur in an actual free society, one where differences are set aside and people work together for the overall betterment. Babe, the character, works towards those goals not because it is his mission, but because he knows of nothing else. Simply put, Babe is a tremendous creation and one of the most heartfelt characters to ever grace the silver screen.
Like most animated/stop-motion/animatronic ventures Babe depends on terrific voice work. Most people will recognize Hugo Weaving as the voice of Rex, he does a splendid job, but the rest of the cast are veteran voice actors who know how to imbue their characters with whatever emotions are needed. You feel sympathy for them, you rejoice with them, you laugh with them, they become real to you and without great voice acting that would never happen.
What sets Babe apart from most films of the same ilk is the acting of James Cromwell and Magda Szubanski. Of the two Szubanski contributes less, but that’s not due to lack of performance but because of lack of screen time. James Cromwell however is central to the story and he gives a tremendous lesson on what acting actually entails. Too often we focus on lines or dialogue, but a truly great actor breathes life into a character and tells a story without having to utter many words. Farmer Hoggett holds himself in, he is a man of few words, but because of Cromwell’s eyes and body language we know what Hoggett is thinking the entire movie. Hoggett’s character builds to two moments, the singing and dancing routine and his final words to Babe. The loud moment is the song and dance, where Hoggett unleashes with all the emotion he holds under the surface to help a pig that he cares deeply for. However, the moment that most defines the film, Hoggett and shows Cromwell at his finest is the final line he conveys to Babe. In that line, the expression of Hoggett and the look from Babe a point of serenity is reached, an absolute calm where dreams do come true, recognition is conferred and the world is full of nothing but love and happiness. It may only last a few seconds, but it is power through and through.
I could go on and on about Babe, the movie is that great and has affected me that much. The themes will connect with young and old. The comedy is funny, the characters are real, it looks gorgeous, it is technically amazing. The acting is brilliant and it is a film that makes you happy to be involved with film. Babe is an all-time great, a movie everyone needs to see, there’s no need for me to droll on and on, just see the film and become mesmerized.