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a follow-up to disney's live-action " 101 dalmatians " that's better , more entertaining than the first ?
just as unlikely .
with " 102 dalmatians , " the disney studios have proven that when it comes to going to the dogs , more is definitely * not * the merrier .
1996's " 101 dalmatians " certainly wasn't the greatest movie-going experience of all time , but it did feature glenn close in an outrageous , larger-than-life performance .
in addition , we had two amiable leads in the form of jeff daniels and joely richardson , and lots and lots of adorable spotted puppies .
this time around there seem to be fewer puppies on the screen , and close's facial and physical gyrations are starting to feel as old as the 53-year-old actress under that startling black and white wig of hers .
but that's only half the problem with kevin lima's laborious film .
what makes " 102 dalmatians " such a collosal bore is its embarrassing attempts at humor ( here almost single-handedly foisted on a wisecracking macaw who thinks he's a dog , voiced by eric idle ) , its rabid plotlessness ( cruella goes after puppies again ; winds up in goo again ) and most of all , the incredibly wooden actors who plays the romantic " heroes " of the piece , a welshman named ioan gruffudd and the blander-than-bland alice evans as a parole officer named chlo ? .
gruffudd is cute and harmless , perhaps , but evans can't even aspire to that .
the dogs upstage them both , of course , but in the case of evans , even close's split ends are more animated .
bad acting , however , seems to be a requirement for this sequel , since g ? rard depardieu shows up as a french furrier with a haircut like robert de niro's in " men of honor . "
jean pierre le pelt is a flamboyant fashion designer with a penchant for fine furs and depardieu's over-the-top antics mimic those of the campy close flail for flail , and wail for wail .
france's most popular export besides brie has long since turned into a caricature of himself , and in " 102 dalmatians " the producers milk that realization for all it's worth--le pelt likes to refer to the furry little critters as " poopies , " par example ( and ad nauseum ) .
the finesses of the script ( attributed to four screenwriters no less , and far removed from anything dodie smith ever dreamed up ) are quickly dispensed with , since all it takes for a paroled cruella to be shaken from her years of successful aversion therapy in the slammer is the tolling of big ben ( ? ) .
that done , it's back to the mansion to roll around in her heretofore off-limits sables and minks and a plan to skin those little dahlings for the sake of a hooded designer gown .
the dogs are pretty cute--try making a puppy look otherwise--but that's pretty much all they are .
there's always the feeling that there's a trainer off in the wings , coaxing the dogs to open doors , or pick up their food bowls in unison , or pop a tape into the videocasette recorder .
savvy holiday goers should skip " 102 dalmatians " and pop the original 1961 animated classic into * their * vcrs instead .
it's one dalmatian less , but 101% more satisfying .