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MOVIE | 3 Little Pigs and a Baby (2008)
Anthony Berk / Real Movie News / March 17, 2008
When three pigs are the target of a special-ops team of wolves and their plan to finally infiltrate the impenetrable house of bricks, the unassuming pigs find a tiny wolf cub on their doorstep and raise him as their own. The newest addition to their family, Lucky, grows up into his teens not knowing his history, his role in the wolves' plan or the difficult choice he will have to make about the family that raised him.
3 Little Pigs And A Baby (2008) DVD Review:
In watching 3 Pigs and a Baby, I have to wonder where the animated film world would be without Shrek. After all, aside from Pixar as the forerunner in animated films, every animated film that comes out by any other studio has to resort to the gimmick of rewriting fairy tales. From Happily N'Ever After to Hoodwinked, it seems that the constant lampooning of classic children's stories is in vogue these days. It's understandable why it's become such a craze. After all, children can enjoy and identify with the stories, but there's still room for subtle humor that only adults will pick up on. Still, it would be nice to see a little bit of originality outside of the Pixar realm, but it doesn't seem like that's going to happen any time soon. 3 Pigs and a Baby is the first in a line of "Unstable Fables" being released straight to DVD by the Jim Henson Company.
As you might have guessed, 3 Pigs and a Baby is an irreverent spoof of The Three Little Pigs. In the film, the Big Bad Wolf is part of a covert team of wolves trying to infiltrate the pigs' houses. After Big Bad fails to blow down the brick house the wolves try another plan: they leave a baby wolf in a basket on the pigs' doorstep. The pigs find the baby wolf, thinking him abandoned, and take him in as one of their own. However, as the baby wolf (now named Lucky) grows into his adolescence, his true purpose as a mole for the wolves starts to be revealed.
I have to admit I went into this film with low expectations and was pleasantly surprised. It's not a great film or anything, but it is a fun and breezy little ride. Thankfully, it sticks more to the Shrek side of things with comedic subtlety and less to the Happily N'Ever After side of things with generic childish humor (I'm looking at you obligatory toilet humor). The three pig characters are actually very well realized. They have distinct personalities and their relationships together feel genuinely brotherly. Unfortunately, the antagonistic wolves are far less interesting, as they're nothing more than two-dimensional caricatures of villainous archetypes. While this seems like a deliberate creative choice on the part of the filmmakers, the wolves' predictable scheming antics become tiresome a little too quickly.
Despite the film's inherent goofiness it actually has some worthwhile issues buried beneath the surface. As Lucky grows up, he is faced with the fact that he is indeed a wolf even though he has been raised by pigs (he spends the first half of the film thinking that he's a pig). He identifies with the three pigs as his family, but his wolf instincts also get the better of him sometimes. Although it may not be completely obvious due to the breezy nature of the film, this conflict is addressing the age old question of nature vs. nurture. Is Lucky truly a wolf because of his genetics, or is he truly a pig because of his upbringing. This element in particular lends some welcome levity to the film.
I would have been happy with a little more complexity in the film's plot. I know this is a children's film, but turning the story of the Three Little Pigs into a feature length adventure doesn't make for the most captivating viewing experience. To be fair, the filmmakers do about as much with the premise as they can, but the film still feels a bit too leisurely and stretched out, even at a short 76 minute running time. One other small problem I had was that one of the characters has a third-act change of heart that feels largely unfounded. It's not that the change of heart isn't believable; to the contrary, we're expecting it to happen. However, the filmmakers didn't see fit to include a scene where the change of heart takes place-the revelation scene, if you will. Instead, the character just changes suddenly. In Scene A the character feels one way and in Scene B he's done a complete 180. I know it's the predictable character moment that we're all expecting, but the filmmakers could have at least thrown in something in between to show us why it happened. I know I'm being slightly nitpicky for a children's film, but it's worth mentioning.
For a children's movie, the extras included on the DVD are of surprisingly high quality. There are three featurettes: "The Voices of 3 Pigs & A Baby," "Re-Imagining A Classic," and "Animation Education," all of which give insight into the filmmaking process. Put together, they only clock in at about a half hour, but this is a case of quality over quantity. You can also see some trailers for other films, including the next Unstable Fable which is a riff on The Tortoise and the Hare.
The 3 Little Pigs may not be one of the most original setups ever; after all, the fairy tale spoof has been done to death as of late. However, it is quite a lot better than the ones we've been seeing as of late. It's got good humor, fun characters, and even a little bit of depth for those who want to look for it. It may be breezy and light entertainment, but it's fun while it lasts.
3 Little Pigs And A Baby (2008) DVD review written by: Anthony Berk