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"That'll do, pig. That'll do."
Based on a book named The Sheep-Pig by Dick King-Smith, Babe is the story of a little piglet ("Babe" to the other animals he encounters and "Pig" to all the humans — including the narrator) that gets plucked from his life as future dinner to become a prize at a fair, ending up on the farm of sheep rancher Mr. Hoggett. His ranch is quirky already, and taking in Babe, cared for by his sheepdog Fly, only makes things stranger.
As it turns out, Babe is a kind and trusting sort that quickly befriends most of the farm, and uses his friendship to become an effective sheep herder. From there, Farmer Hoggett decides, instead of using Babe as a featured part of the dinner table, to use the little pig to actually compete in sheep dog trials.
While theoretically a children's movie, its offbeat charm and heartwarming (and remarkably Glurge-free) story made it a favorite amongst all ages. It even proved to be Oscar Bait, much to the surprise of many — and the chagrin of the Academy, who made efforts to keep further "children's movies" from qualifying in the future. Hello, Best Animated Picture category! (Best Animated Picture says, "hi.")
The film was followed by a 1998 sequel, Babe: Pig in the City, which despite its cutesy-poo title manages to take an already fairly dark story and turn it very, very much 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. More information can be found here.
The book also got a sequel-of-sorts, a somewhat Lighter and Softer book called Ace, which tells of Babe's great-grandson Ace — so named because he has a spot on his side that resembles the Ace of Clubs — who has the curious and unique ability to perfectly understand human language. None of the characters from the original book appear, though Babe and the Hoggetts are mentioned a few times.
- Adaptation Expansion: The movie adds several characters and plot threads that weren't in the book.
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Fly was willing to put aside her prejudice for sheep to politely ask them what happened the morning that Maa was killed so she could prove Babe's innocence.
- Angry Guard Dog: Rex.
- Animal Athlete Loophole: Aint No Rule that says a pig can't compete in a sheepherding dog trial! In a trick of semantics the trial registration form merely requires "Name of Entry". The narrator says that had it been "Name of Dog", they couldn't have entered Babe. This also happens in the book.
- Animal Talk: All animals can understand each other, though their understanding of humans is limited. Humans can't understand the animals at all.
- And yet, even though the different animals can understand one another, they're surprisingly bad at actually communicating with each other, especially dogs and sheep.
- Awful Truth: Babe finds out that most pigs are eaten by humans and that his real family was most likely eaten.
- A Boy and His X: While Hoggett is noticeably older than the trope would indicate, his manner certainly calls this trope to mind.
- Broken Aesop: "Eatin' pigs? Baaarbarians!"? Well, uh, maybe, if you never learned that pigs themselves are notoriously omnivorous and have in fact been known to eat other pigs...
- Fridge Brilliance: But it's actually very likely that Maa didn't know that fact, seeing that Babe was the first pig on the farm and probably the only pig she ever knew.
- Brutal Honesty: Fly did not sugar-coat the fact from Babe that humans do eat pigs.
- Carnivore Confusion: Basically makes up the entire plot of both movies. When was the last time you cringed at a duck dinner?
- Cats Are Mean: Though the film gives a disclaimer that not all cats are mean (indeed, the ones in City are mostly nice). However, Duchess, the spoiled cat, is mean by even cat standards. She not only gives Babe a nasty scratch, but also tells him that humans eat pigs.
- How is it her line "Pigs have no purpose" isn't here? It pretty much defines this trope.
- Ultimately subverted in Ace, where Clarence the cat is, at worst, a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, and is quick to befriend the titular pig.
- City of Canals: In the sequel.
- Color Coded for Your Convenience: Rex, while not being a villain in any sense, is indeed a Jerkass, and fittingly, his fur coat features much less bright markings on it than Fly's, or is even typical for Border Collies as a breed.
- Darker and Edgier: The sequel.
- The first movie is also slightly Darker and Edgier than the original book, though admittedly not by much.
- Deadpan Snarker: The mice, especially in the sequel. "Je ne regrette rien" after Babe accidentally injures Farmer Hoggett?
- Disaster Dominoes: A chapter in the second movie, appropriately titled "Chaos Theory".
- A Dog Named "Dog": Farmer Hogget calls Babe "Pig". Babe's mother called all her babies "Babe".
- Fantastic Racism: Between the dogs and the sheep, the dogs who regard sheep as inferior and stupid, and sheep, who think of all dogs as bloodthirsty wolves.
- Friend to All Living Things: Babe.
- Furry Confusion: Sort of. One of the brilliant touches in Pig in the City is how the chimps — who wear clothing and are part of a circus act — consider themselves superior to other animals because of how human-like they are. By the end they find it's better just being themselves.
- Greek Chorus: The mice.
- Green-Eyed Monster: This was one of the main reasons why Rex did not like Babe. Rex had the makings of a sheepdog champion but had lost his hearing and therefore couldn't herd sheep as well as he used to. Then came Babe who was able to do what he couldn't.
- Heartwarming Orphan: Babe.
- Heel Face Turn: Rex.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Rex, who eventually warms up to Babe.
- Meaningful Echo:
Fly decided to speak very slowly, for it was a cold fact of nature that sheep were stupid, and no one would ever persuade her otherwise.
- Meaningful Name: Babe is a "babe" i.e, "baby" because of his naivety. Rex and Duchess because of their rank and place in the farm's hierarchy.
- Motor Mouth: Mrs. Hoggett.
- Parental Bonus: A particularly eyebrow raising one, again care of Ferdinand, this time describing his attempts to take over the rooster's role:
"I tried making it with the chickens and it didn't work!"
- Parental Substitute: Fly keeps an eye after Babe and mothers him like he was one of hers. And after Fly's pups are sold, Babe comforts her with just this.
" Fly? May I call you Mom?"
- Plucky Comic Relief: Ferdinand. In fact, he's not in the original book and was invented for the movie specifically to fill this role.
- Poor Communication Kills: The main reason for the enmity between sheep and dogs.
- Raised by Wolves: A variant; Babe is raised by a mother sheepdog, who does teach a somewhat awkward set of manners to the young pig. Somewhat appropriately, the sheep frequently refer to the dogs as "wolves".
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Take your pick.
- The Quiet One: Hoggett.
- Sad Clown: The Fabulous Floom is a literal sad clown. He also, however, counts as a...
- Scary Clown: How unsettling is the Fabulous Floom? Let us count the ways...
- Shoo Out the Clowns: While Ferdinand leaving the farm isn't an immediate sign of things getting darker, it's telling that he doesn't return until the most dramatic part of the movie is over.
- Inverted in the sequel, where he's largely absent for the first part of the movie and then shows up in time for the darkest parts. Guess the moviemakers figured some comedy relief would be welcome at that point.
- Shout-Out: An inversion, the quote at the top of the page has been referenced in several place from The Dresden Files to Shrek.
- And far more obscurely, in Warcraft 2 the NPC sheep would bleat out 'baa ram ewe' if you clicked on them enough.
- Sneeze of Doom: Subverted. Ferdinand almost wakes up the cat, but then Babe drops an alarm clock.
- The Stoic: Hoggett, again.
- Tears of Joy: Mrs. Hoggett at the end of the film. Maybe the audience, too.