Not to be confused with 1995's other talking-pig flick, the execrable GORDY, BABE could charm the pants off the most unregenerate cynic. The title character (voice of Christine Cavanaugh) is adorable as only a freshly scrubbed piglet can be, but Babe's on the fast track

to becoming Christmas dinner at Farmer Hoggett's house. Then he recognizes his destiny: to become a sheepdog like his surrogate mom, Border collie Fly. State-of-the-art special effects make BABE's barnyard animals look completely convincing even when they speak, and the vocal performances have

real depth and substance. This Australian-made movie has a darker edge than most American kiddie films -- it frankly acknowledges that an idyllic farmhouse can be a chamber of horrors from an animal's point of view -- but a perfectly contrived happy ending should soothe juvenile sensibilities.

Adults, meanwhile, may find themselves enthralled.