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George Miller’s Babe Pig In The City

George Miller’s Babe Pig In The City is quite the underestimated film. Following on the heels of the sweet, good natured fable that was the first Babe, Miller delved into his creative well, pulled out all the stops and came up with a rip roaring, wondrously exciting sequel that outdoes the original in almost every way. The production design and sets alone are enough to make the film a winner, the titular city comprised from aspects of LA, New York, Sydney, Paris, Vegas and many more. It’s every rural village’s idea of what the city must be like, a gigantic metropolitan dream world of commotion, chaos and creativity. Miller starts, in a charming sequence, at Babe’s humble beginnings on the picturesque, old world farmland and hurtles him on a madcap adventure in this city of cities, joined by some of his farmland friends (Ferdinand the duck and those adorable singing Mice, whose musical numbers are hilarious), and sees him meet a whole host of new ones. This is where the magic of the film really takes hold, as we see hundreds of dogs, cats, monkeys, birds, rodents and one hapless goldfish all come to amazingly realistic life courtesy of Miller and his team. Each animal is beautifully voiced and given his or her own dignity, grace and absolutely grounded story arc to the point where this becomes no longer just a children’s film, but a surrealist take on city life, moral hardships, individual personality and classist conflict as enacted by the national geographic channel. The sinister German shepherd (of course voiced by a German dude), the wise old orangutang Thelonius (James Cosmo) who heartbreakingly won’t leave a risky situation without putting his human clothes on (Miller sneaks in some thoughtful themes) the opera singing cats. Mazda Szubenski deserves a medal for her physical comedy and tart, spry turn as the farmers wife, diligently pursuing babe to the city where she is hilariously out of her element. James Chromwell briefly reprises his wonderful Farmer Hoggett, Mickey Rooney, looking so old and delirious I’d be surprised if he knew what film he was working on, let alone what planet, has a demented cameo as a sinister clown who is not quite right in the head. This film used to scare me as a kid, and looking back I’m both glad that it did and now realize the importance to infusing dark wonder and genuine menace into children’s films, for one day they will grow up and find out that the world is very much like the frightening fables and fairy tales from their youth. This film has sadness and harsh realities, like the Brooklyn voiced bull terrier who can’t control his violent behaviour because he knows it’s in his nature, the cruel and heartless actions of the animal control unit dispatched to round up all the stray puppers and kitties (this left me traumatized) or the terrifying accidental fire that rips through the children’s ward of a hospital. The film takes place in a hyper stylized version of our world but the truths we see and the suffering some of these animals endure couldn’t be closer to reality, and it’s important not to shy away or gloss over that. There’s also wonderful kindness and warm-hearted behaviour too, like the touching family dynamic between the family of chimpanzees, the pink poodle (Russi Taylor) who shelters and feeds tiny kittens who are scared and hungry, or the sympathetic airport custodian who takes pity on Babe and Mrs. Hoggett. It’s a weird, wild world of a film that Miller makes the most out of with every elaborately designed set piece, Dr. Seuss-esque spectacle and surreal flourish, but it’s also a serious minded tale with a brain in its head and a strong emotional centre, showing that ‘a kind and steady heart’ will always help in hard times. A masterpiece for all ages.

-Nate Hill

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Babe Pig, Rob Zombie and Tommy Pickles: A chat with actress E.G. Daily – By Nate Hill

I just had the chance to speak with incredibly talented voice actress E.G. Daily about her work and career. She is the girl behind Babe Pig, Tommy Pickles from The Rugrats, Buttercup from The Powerpuff Girls,  and Baby Mumble from Happy Feet, also lending her voice to shows and films such as Chalkzone, The Land Before Time, Pound Puppies, Recess, Clifford The Big Red Dog, Hey Arnold, A Goofy Movie, The Flintstones, The Little Rascals, Darkwing Duck and more. She also can be seen in Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects, and his upcoming horror film ’31’ which I’m very excited for. Take a look, and enjoy!
Nate: How did you get into acting? Something you always wanted to do or did you fall into it?
EG: Started as a kid, 8 years old had first agent …didn’t book till age 15, Laverne and Shirley…then it took off. Always wanted to dance and sing and write songs, then fell in love with acting …and actually worked hard for it…
Nate: Voice acting vs. Live action? What do you find different about the two, and which do you enjoy more?
EG: Voice acting is very freeing in that I can be anything … a boy, girl , old lady, ball, box, anything! And Im not relevant on my body so that is all very freeing ! On camera I get to dress up live in another realm … I get to be on a set, I get to get lost using my body to be someone else … and I love wardrobe ! I honestly can say I LOVE THEM BOTH. 
Nate: Playing Babe Pig. How was that experience for you? Do you like the first film better or the sequel? (I’m a huge fan of the sequel)
EG: I loved the first one, cause it was so simple. But the second was a little darker and very artsy …Liked them both for different reasons. Loved working with George Miller he’s amazing! 
Nate: What kind of preparation do you do before doing voice work? 
EG: No real prep for Voice over … just make sure I’ve gotten enough sleep and have FUN . Laughter actually warms up my voive …so when we laugh in sessions that is the best for my voice !  

As for singing …I do vocal warm ups! 

Nate: How was your experience playing Tommy Pickles on The Rugrats? 

EG: Tommy Pickles was my first Voice over Job so it was amazing, and I had never done animation so had no pre conceived ideas, just enjoyed it all.  Felt like I got to play!! Tommy was such a sweet character it was so precious to play him.

Nate: The Devil’s Rejects- how did you get approached to play Candy? How was your experience working with Rob Zombie and all the other actors?

EG: Devil’s Rejects… I was at my Voice over agents .. when they said we just got an offer for you to do a film….I asked to see the script and the role, and loved it and said yes I want to do it ! ! It wasn’t till I was leaving the office they said its a Lions Gate film. I was like oh great! Then the last thing they said was  “Ohhh, also its directed by Rob Zombie” That was the best part! 

Nate: You’ll also be starring in 31 directed by Rob Zombie. What can we expect from your character and the film itself?
EG: ”31” BAd ASS …My character SEX-HEAD is bad ass! And one of my favorites EVER. I cant say much about it . They arent even sharing pics of my character yet cause they are keeping her un exposed, I think cause she’s so cool! . Amazing project. Got lost in it.
Nate: Some of your favourite movies?
EG: Favorite movies …This is 40 …Bridesmaids … The Intern … Documentaries ….For now.
Nate: Thanks so much for your time EG!