Cinematic product doesn't come much more unnecessary than this: a needless live-action remake of a perfectly good cartoon. But as bad ideas go, this one proves fairly harmless -- a lively and lightweight film meant for, and doubtlessly appealing to, undiscriminating children. Even so, chances are that most will still prefer the original. Screenwriter John Hughes manages to throw in some retrograde sexual politics -- the evil, childless Cruella chastises Anita for surrendering her career for a family -- but most viewers won't notice it amidst the sea of dalmatians. Even so, the animals hardly live up to their soulfully animated forebears. Pongo in particular seems to always be looking off-camera for his cues and the puppies, while cute, have little personality. Glenn Close delivers a camp-by-numbers performance as Cruella, usually within some expensive-looking sets, but otherwise the busy film glides by without making much of an impression one way or another.