Babe: Pig in the City is a 1998 Australian-American comedy-drama film and the sequel to the 1995 film Babe. It is co-written, produced and directed by George Miller, who co-wrote and produced the original film. Most of the actors from the first film reappeared as their respective roles, including James Cromwell, Miriam Margolyes, Hugo Weaving, Danny Mann, Roscoe Lee Browne and Magda Szubanski. However, most of them have only brief appearances, as the story focuses on the journey of Babe and the farmer's wife Esme in the fictional city of Metropolis and Elizabeth Daily replaces Christine Cavanaugh as Babe.
Months after the events of the first film, Babe and his master Arthur Hoggett are given a welcome home parade after Babe's success as a "sheepdog". One day, Babe inadvertently causes an accident and Arthur ends up in a hospital. Esme is unsuccessful tending the farm by herself. Soon, two men from the bank arrive to inform Esme that she and Arthur have not paid their rent on time, and they will soon be evicted at the end of the month. Esme locates a letter from a fan saying that if she enters Babe in a sheepdog herding contest, held at a fair far away, she will win a large amount of money. She decides to enter Babe and they leave the farm together.
At the airport in the city of Metropolis, a sniffer dog falsely detects that Babe and Esme are accused of carrying illegal substances. Airport security officers interrogate them, causing them to miss their connecting flight. An airport cleaner informs them about a hotel that is suitable for accommodating animals, so Esme and Babe go there. While Esme runs an errand, Babe chases a black and white capuchin monkey named Tug after he steals Esme's suitcase. Fleeing into a hotel room, Babe follows it and meets three clothed chimpanzees named Bob, Zootie and Easy, as well as Thelonius, an orangutan butler for the landlady's elderly uncle Fugly Floom (Mickey Rooney), a clown who kidnaps Babe to use in his act. Babe initially refuses, but accepts when the chimps mention a reward he will receive after doing the act. When Esme returns, Fugly tricks her into thinking that Babe ran off into the city. Esme leaves to look for Babe, but ends up getting arrested after causing an uproar with some thugs. Fugly performs his clown act in a hospital, but Babe accidentally trips him and he throws a flaming torch into the stage curtains which catch fire, forcing everyone out.
The next morning, Fugly goes to the hospital in a food coma escorted by the landlady. Babe is in his room, hungry and waiting for Esme to return. That night, the chimps try to steal food from a store and use Babe to distract two dogs, who chase Babe around the city. Babe falls into a river and swims away, but returns and saves one of the dogs from drowning. The dog becomes friends with Babe, and Babe invites him and the other homeless animals into the hotel. They share the food around and then sing, alerting the duck Ferdinand who was searching for Babe. Zootie gives birth to twins, and the animals celebrate. Animal control officers are called to capture all the animals and seize them, except for Babe, Tug, Ferdinand and Flealick. Esme is released from jail by the judge after explaining her situation. That night, Babe, Tug, Flealick, and Ferdinand sneak into animal control and open their friends' cages. Esme returns to the hotel and reunites with the landlady, who is mourning her uncle's death, and tells Esme that her neighbor Hortense was the one who got the animals taken away. Esme and the landlady confront Hortense to find out where the animals have been sent, then set off to find them.
Esme and the landlady track the animals to a charity dinner in the hospital's ballroom, where they battle the chefs and waiters with fire extinguishers. In the epilogue, the landlady leases the hotel and gives the money to Esme so she can save the farm. The landlady and the animals come to stay at the farm, where Arthur has recovered from his injury. Arthur proudly watches Babe, and says, "That'll do, pig. That'll do."
Christine Cavanaugh, who played Babe in the first movie, was approached to reprise her role, but declined when contract negotiations fell through. Cavanaugh was eventually replaced by her Rugrats co-star Elizabeth Daily.
Prior to the film's theatrical release, it was originally rated PG by the MPAA. The TV spots for the film's theatrical release mentioned this rating, as did a promotional poster. By the time the film was released in theaters it had been re-rated as G due to the film being re-edited and submitted again for review.
Babe: Pig in the City takes place in an imaginative, fantasy-like metropolis. It notably resembles Oz but is in modern-day form.[original research?] The city has numerous styles of architecture from around the world. It also has a variety of waterways, noticeable by the hotel at which Babe stays. The downtown area appears to be situated on an island not dissimilar to Manhattan Island. The Downtown Skyline features numerous landmarks such as the World Trade Center, the Sears Tower, the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, the IDS Center, the MetLife Building, the Sydney Opera House, the Hollywood sign, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Fernsehturm Berlin, Big Ben, Red Square, the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, the Christ the Redeemer statue, among others.
The DVD covers feature a similar but different skyline, keeping the World Trade Center, the Golden Gate Bridge, Big Ben, the Sydney Opera House, and Red Square. Several skyscrapers added include 40 Wall Street (Two of them), the Empire State Building, 500 5th Avenue, the Flatiron Building, the World Financial Center, and several Los Angeles skyscrapers including the U.S. Bank Tower. The river near the hotel is similar to the canals of Venice, Italy, or Amsterdam, Netherlands.
The movie received a 62% "Fresh" rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Film critic Gene Siskel named it as his choice for the best movie of 1998, over more adult-oriented films like Saving Private Ryan, Life Is Beautiful and Shakespeare in Love; Siskel also felt it was better than the first Babe film. Roger Ebert gave the film four out of four stars and said it was "more magical than the original Babe."
In the decades since Babe: Pig in the City's release, the movie has developed a cult following. Tom Waits expressed appreciation for the film during a 2010 interview with Mojo Magazine. Radio personality/podcaster Jesse Thorn has also praised the film.
The musical score for Babe: Pig in the City was composed by Nigel Westlake, who wrote the music for the first film. A soundtrack album was released on 24 November 1998 by Geffen Records featuring Westlake's score as well as sound clips taken from film. The soundtrack also includes source music such as "Chattanooga Choo Choo" by Glenn Miller and "That's Amore" by Dean Martin. Additional tracks include the Academy Award-nominated theme song "That'll Do" and a song sung by Elizabeth Daily, the voice of Babe.
The film was released on VHS, DVD (in both widescreen and pan and scan formats), and laserdisc on May 4, 1999. On May 22, 2001, the film was released on DVD as a 2-pack with the original Babe. On September 23, 2003, it was re-released on DVD as part of "The Complete Adventure Two-Movie Pig Pack" in its separate widescreen and pan and scan formats. On November 12, 2004, it was re-released onto DVD as part of a Family Double Feature, which includes Babe with the widescreen and the pan and scan versions of the film.