The 1995 Academy award-winning film Babe was Australian-made and featured the latest in talking animal anima-tronics. It told the heart-warming story of a sheepherding pig named Babe and his rise to community fame. The film was a tremendous hit, both financially and critically. Babe: Pig in the City is the higher budgeted American-made sequel that picks up where the original left off. It was directed by George Miller (Mad Max trilogy) who produced the original Babe film, and received a lot of criticism for being much darker than the original. The story owes more to George Orwell's Animal Farm or Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist than the original film. Having triumphed at the National Sheepdog trials, Babe returns home a hero. But after farmer Hoggett (James Cromwell) suffers from a farming accident, Mrs. Hoggett, a naive portly woman, is left to work the ranch alone. It's not long before the bank comes knocking. Desperate to save her farm from foreclosure, she accepts an offer for Babe to perform his sheepherding abilities at an overseas state fair. Babe, Mrs. Hoggett, Ferdinand the duck, and the singing mice travel across the ocean to a surreal metropolis, where they suddenly become stranded and separated. Soon Babe is performing with circus apes, being chased by wild strays (sounding a lot like Marlon Brando in The Godfather), and making a new wheelchair-bound canine friend (voiced by Adam Goldberg). He also is anointed leader of the animal community. What Babe lacks in street smarts he makes up for in honest goodness as he teaches audiences yet again that "an unprejudiced heart can mend a broken world."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.