I was wondering how John Hughes was going to do it.

John Hughes has, over time, written movies about younger and younger people, from teenage hi jinx in Sixteen Candles to elementary school hi jinx in the Home Alone movies to a friggin' baby in Baby's Day Out. What was next? Sperm: The Movie?

Nope. He's switchin' to dogs.

John Hughes was one of the writers for Disney's latest live-action box office champion, 101 Dalmatians. Basically, it's Home Alone with Dogs.

The story is exactly what the story to the cartoon is, and that is it's main problem. See, while the animated 101 Dalmatians is a classic (actually, any movie animated by Disney is, by definition, a classic. It says so on the Video Box), it's really not that good of a story. Dogs get kidnapped, other dogs rescue them. As a cartoon, it comes close to working because the dogs are given characters and voices and personalities. As a live action movie, it's just a bunch of dogs performing Stupid Pet Tricks. There are all of five characters who are human and of worth in this movie. There are the hapless owners (read the parents from Home Alone), who do nothing the entire movie. "Oh look, I've just net this woman today because my dog is in love with hers, I think I'll marry her. OK, I've married her, let the dogs take the movie over, I'll be at the craft services table." Then there are the two dognappers (read Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern from Home Alone) "Oh look at that electric fence! In order to get over it, let's pile some round objects on top of each other, stretch one leg over the fence, and pray the round objects don't begin to roll out from under each other and our pee-pee don't get zapped."

The two differences between this movie and Home Alone are thus: Instead of a rather cute kid who can mug and say cool one-liners, we got a bunch of dogs who can, well, bark a lot. And Glenn Close.

It is a sad fact that one of the weakest Disney stories has one of the best villains of all time. If you liked Cruella DeVil (get it? Cruel Devil? Subtlety, thy name is Disney.) in the cartoon, then guess what, that's what you get in the live action movie as well. Glenn Close does a truly amazing job bringing the cartoon to life. She's perfect, and worthy of every accolade you can give her. I mean she LOOKS like the cartoon, and she bends her body into the cartoon's shape and everything. She's a lesson in craft acting, one that all character actors who are going to try to bring cartoon characters to life should be forced to watch.

But she can't be in the whole movie, and when she isn't, it's lame. And, more predictable than almost any other movie I've ever seen.

If you are going to see this movie, and truth is, it's already made over $120 million, so most of you already have - fools, be familiar with the cartoon. If you've seen the cartoon and know the story, then you'll be able to follow scene after scene from Those Amazing Animals. Otherwise, you may well get lost in the story and have to ask the four year-old next to you to explain it to you.

Oh yeah, there is no way on this God's Earth that you will see this movie without at least ten screaming toddlers kicking the back of your seat. Go ahead, try me. Go to a midnight showing, early Saturday morning, it doesn't matter. They live and breed in the theaters for this movie. You will, yourself, regress to the age of six during a number of scenes.

You will also go "Awwww." many times because the animals are so darned cute. I mean come on, put any one of us in front of 99 little puppy dogs, and we'll all melt into coo-coo talk.

"Lookathelittlepuppy! Lookatim!!! He'socute!!! Puppies!!!"

You get the picture. Disney has turned up the cuteness knob on the film projector full throttle and there's no escape. But at least they understand this, and have Dalmatian depravation classes next door to most showings in an attempt to re-integrate most of us back into society.

I give 101 Dalmatians 2 1/4 Babylons, unless you're three. In which case, I give it 2 4/5. Got it? Good.

Now leave me alone, I need to figure out how they got that one dog to the thing with the burlap sack.

Editor's Note:

Hi there. Hope you all had a wonderful New Year's. We did.

How's the family? Yeah? Good. Sorry to hear about Uncle Rufus, but that's what happens when you lick the thermostat.

Golden Globes were nominated last week or so. You'll notice something very important if you look at the nominees. The Self-Made Critic didn't see most of them.

The People Vs. Larry Flint, The English Patient, Shine, Evita, Secrets and Lies. Haven't seen 'em yet. What does that tell you?

That's right. He needs to see MORE MOVIES!!!!!

God help us all.