The Darkest Parts Of Babe: Pig In The City That Nobody Talks About

Babe: Pig in the City is a highly underrated sequel with a dedicated cult following. Not a lot of people have seen it, and it did terribly in the box office, but Roger Ebert loved it and so did Chicago Reader critic Pat Graham. Thing is, if more people knew it wasn't just another silly romp starring a cute pig, maybe they'd pay it more attention. Yeah, for a G-rated film, this thing is dark and disturbing — even those who love it must admit it isn't for young children because, well, those really dark parts. Some of these scenes are so out-of-this-world eerie, they merit all the discussion:

One pig can destroy a whole farm

While Babe was a jolly romp about a pig who could herd sheep, Pig In The City's whole premise is this: the pig tries to help the farmer fix the well. The pig's help lands the farmer in traction, which lands the farm in trouble, so much that bankers are coming to repossess it. Really now? How can one little pig do that much damage? And how smart are these farmers anyway? Farmer Hoggett could have pig-proofed the well operation, knowing how clumsy the little oinker was — besides, what sort of farm just stops bringing in any money at all the minute a farmer gets hurt? Is he going to market every day to sell stuff?

And Mrs. Hoggett — she decides to take Babe to a sheep-herding contest with a "generous appearance fee," and that's supposed to make it all better? The lack of logic and financial planning in two grown adults is seriously shocking and, while the pig's certainly to blame for the pickle they're all in, the plan ultimately puts him in grave danger.

The scene where the farmer gets hurt is especially harrowing, and at first, the viewer wonders if the old man is going to make it. We later see him laid up in a hospital bed inside the farmhouse, and the Narrator tells us how very contrite the little pig fella is. He says, "at no other time in his short life, had the pig wished more that his words could be understood by humans, if only to say, 'Sorry, Boss.'" We can definitely see from how banged up the farmer is, one little pig can do a whole lot of damage.

One pig can land a woman in big trouble

Mrs. Hoggett takes Babe on the plane but he has to ride in the cargo section ... where, of course, he meets a drug-sniffing dog who shows off how he "smells a smell" by insinuating that there are drugs in the pig. Mrs. Hoggett gets strip-searched and humiliated, and misses her connecting flight. Once she finally finds a place that will take the pig, she needs to go use a phone and, of course, the pig gets kidnapped and she goes looking for him ... only to be treated cruelly by the scantily-clad townsfolk, soaked with billboard glue, and hauled into court. All for the love of Arthur's pig. She even, eventually, dons a jingly clown suit and bungees all over a fancy banquet to save the pig. So much trouble for one little chunk of bacon.

The thing about Mrs. Hoggett that is so heart-wrenching is, she goes on this crazy trip for the love of her Arthur and his farm. She's a woman on a mission to save the farm with this weird little pig that can herd sheep, and she ends up in the scary big city with all this mayhem and madness. It doesn't stop her, though, and she does, in fact, end up saving the day with the help of the hotel landlady. But geez — what terrible things that woman goes through in this movie!

The dogs' lives are for ... the dogs

The universe in which Pig In The City takes place is not kind to animals. Mrs. Hoggett has a hard time find a hotel that will accept her pig, though the kindly hotel matron has a fondness for animals and keeps them there illegally. Of course, because of Babe, all the adults end up MIA because Mrs. Hoggett is in jail, and the hotel matron is with her uncle, who all but dies after Babe managed to catch his hospital on fire. So, because all the adults are gone, the animals in hiding need food. Turns out, so does every other animal in town because, once the doors are open, we hear all sorts of sob stories from the dogs.

It's easy to overlook the horror for the cuteness when a little teeny dog says "My human tied me in a bag and throwed me in the water," because at least the dog's still around to tell the tale. The pink poodle insinuates she's had a life of prostitution and that she was abandoned for someone "younger and prettier." We all say "awwww" when the mighty bull terrier gives Babe his spiked collar, but when he says "I have a professional obligation to be malicious," he ain't lying. Babe responds to that, by the way, by saying, "then find another job." As if it were that easy, Babe.

The dogs are later rounded up by animal catchers in a slow-motion, torturous scene, reminiscent of a romp with your childhood bully when the underdog gets punched in the face again and again, but they are instead dogs getting rounded up for scientific experiments and generalized cruelty.

Something truly awful happens with the bull terrier

One scene is, on its face, pretty horrifying, but certain fairytale details make it nightmarish. Babe is being chased by the bull terrier (who later becomes Babe's biggest supporter) and, in some bizarre string of events, the bull terrier ends up suspended by the leg via a chain, face in the water of the canal, drowning. As Babe is running from the vicious animal, his entire life flashes in front of his eyes in a hallucinogenic sequence the narrator says, "Something broke through the terror — flickerings, fragments of his short life, the random events that delivered him to this, his moment of annihilation. As terror gave way to exhaustion, Babe turned to his attacker, his eyes filled with one simple question: Why?"

Why, again, does this movie have a G rating?

Anyway, Babe gets the jump on the dog, who ends up dangling and drowning, until Babe's heroism gets the best of him and he jumps in the canal, maneuvers a little boat over to the pip and, with the help of Tug the monkey, saves his life. The bull terrier is grateful, and remains by Babe's side as much as possible. What the viewer has to go through to get there, however, is not easy to watch.

Something is seriously wrong with Uncle Fugly

The hotel landlady's uncle, played by Mickey Rooney) has a kid's entertainment show. On the surface, it's a lovely thing he does. He goes with his orangutan, three chimps and a little squirrel monkey and entertains sick kids (hey — we TOLD you this movie was weird). The problem is, the way all of it's framed, we don't see that lovely surface until long after Uncle Fugly's out of the picture. When we first meet Uncle Fugly, he's carrying an unhealthy amount of sweets and has ice cream (and maybe some vomit) all over his face. He gets his eyes on the pig, and when he gets the chance, he kidnaps him. He watches non-plussed as Mrs. Hoggett desperately searches for the pig.

Next thing you know, Babe's part of the show, which is extremely well-put-together and extravagant, considering Uncle Fugly is pretty much non-verbal. Babe doesn't quite have the snout for show business, and asks all the primates when he can get paid. He trips up Uncle Fugly, who had a lit stick of what looked like dynamite in his hand to light his glitter cannon. The flame falls out of Fugly's hand and lights the curtains on fire, and he apparently dies from the shock. It's all pretty traumatic.

It's not until the orangutan is walking through the kid's wing of the institute and one of the patients says "Hello Thelonious," do we realize what a positive impact Uncle Fugly's Primate Show has on the young infirm of Metropolis. Otherwise, it's a horror show, and not just because you see a whole lot of Mickey Rooney.

The primates actually try to murder Babe

Before we meet the bull terrier, before all the animals in town end up at the hotel, the humans are gone and Bob, Zootie and Easy (the chimpanzees) tell Babe there's a place to get food. They lead him to a darkened junkyard where there are two mean dogs, and not sheep, as promised by the chimps. Under a sign that says "Beware: Savage Dogs," Babe encounters a doberman who says "You must have a really thin grasp on reality ... unless, of course, you're suicidal." At which point a snarling, barking bull terrier bursts out at Babe and gives chase.

So yeah — the primates actually tell Babe to go into a spot that, in all likelihood, would kill him. They didn't count on his plucky courage, or how despite his frantic retreat from the situation and terrified cries, the pig would actually save his pursuer from certain death, winning him a lifelong friend and protector. All those facts are why, when we watch this film, it's easy to forget that those monkeys were planning to kill a young pig, mainly because they thought it was a hoot.

Poor little Flealick

The plucky Jack Russell terrier on wheels is one of the best parts of Pig in the City. He's opinionated, has a great sense of humor, is ferocious, and is sort of the big dog (personality-wise) around the hotel. All this makes it easy to swallow the things that happen to him, but when you dissect it all, it's really sad and messed up.

When the people from the institute come to collect all the animals, someone just picks Flealick up by the wheel. When he bites the hand that did that, he's dropped, and the person who drops him has a look of pure disgust. They don't even try to load Flealick back up into the van after that. Then, the little hero tries to hold on to the animal control van and gets thrown, like a little wheeled rag-puppy, onto the pavement where he lays, leg twitching, wheel still spinning. We get a look inside Flealick's mind, and he's in a field, jumping and running. Had he died and gone to Doggy Heaven, only to be pulled out to save his friends? Or was he just knocked out for a second and had a sweet dream? Either way, he does his very best and, by the end, has a lust for life and the road that will keep him chasing cars into perpetuity. Happy ending, promising beginning. Dark, dark middle.