Simplistic and sometimes painfully goofy, this Australian musical comedy only holds the attention by occasionally touching on some real relational issues. Otherwise, filmmaker Mark Lamprell lets the tone veer so wildly from colourful wackiness to dark emotions that nothing is particularly believable. Even the one big theme, about how much a woman is willing to give up for fame, is undercooked, as it were.
The woman in question is Elspeth (Laura Michelle Kelly), who lives in an idyllic farmhouse in rural Tasmania taking care of her tearaway twin toddlers (Levi and Phoenix Morrison) while her husband Jimmy (Ronan Keating) works with whales in Antarctica. Far away from their family and friends in Britain, Elspeth expresses herself by cooking up a storm and writing songs about her life as a domestic goddess. And when she creates a webcam blog so Jimmy can see her little performances, she becomes an internet sensation, catching the eye of corporate shark Cassandra (Magda Szubanski) in Sydney. But if Elspeth wants to pursue stardom, she'll need to leave her boys with a sitter (Celia Ireland) and put even more distance between her and Jimmy.
The relatively simplistic plot never puts too much pressure on Elspeth, despite several further wrinkles, including an amorous busker (Spartacus star Dustin Clare) in Sydney and a young hottie (Lucy Durack) back home to tempt Jimmy. But really Jimmy is the nicest, most helpful hunk any girl could want. And the film's funniest strand involves all of Elspeth's neighbours falling for him as they watch their relationship unfold on the internet like some sort of hidden-camera reality show. But nothing feels remotely realistic, especially the way people laugh uproariously at Elspeth's cute but resolutely unfunny webcasts. At least Kelly fills the screen with bubbly energy, while Szubanski spices things up with another wildly nutty performance (and the show-stopper musical number). By contrast, the sexy men are merely around to complicate Elspeth's decision-making.
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Sure, the humor is moderately intelligent and the narration includes things like a mention of the chaos theory, but when it boils down to it, Babe II was just like every other sequel: an attempt to carbon copy the original. But, friends, the great copy machine known as Hollywood is broken, and has never gotten a repairman, so we are doomed to watch screwed up attempts at copying, remakes gone wrong, and things screwed up.
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There's already an Oscars buzz surrounding this movie.