By Jill Rachlin
Updated November 19, 1993 at 05:00 AM EST

Who would have thought you could squeeze a trilogy out of Look Who’s Talking, a one-joke movie starring Kirstie Alley, John Travolta, and the voice of Bruce Willis as Mikey, Alley’s surprisingly articulate infant? Hollywood, of course. So TriStar immediately followed the 1989 hit with an awful 1990 sequel, with Roseanne Arnold joining the cast as the voice of Julie, the new baby. And now that the studio has milked the talking-baby formula for more than it’s worth, it has let the Look Who’s Talking gang go to the dogs, literally, in Look Who’s Talking Now!, with Danny DeVito and Diane Keaton speaking for the furry featured players.

Anyone who has seen the original Look Who’s Talking will recognize the recycled odd-couple-fall-in-love plot. This time, however, instead of Alley’s high-powered accountant, Mollie, yielding to Travolta’s down-to-earth cabdriver, James, a pedigreed poodle (Keaton) reluctantly grows attached to a streetwise mutt (DeVito). The poodle is forced on the family by James’ new boss, Samantha (Lysette Anthony); the mutt is James’ gift to Mikey (David Gallagher) to soften the blow of seeing a department-store Santa stripped of his suit and magic.

No Homeward Bound, this movie never manages to get past the talking-animal conceit to create a truly charming tale. Moreover, it relies on endless scatological dog jokes to carry the slow-moving story, a fact that kids may find funny and parents may not appreciate. For instance, when James asks Mikey why he’s going to call the dog Rocks, the boy replies, “Because that’s what he left all over the backseat of the car on the way home.” And parents be warned: When the film’s pace finally picks up in the homestretch, younger kids may get squirmy in their seats as they watch Rocks defend the family against vicious wolves on Christmas Eve.

Adults will be pleased to know that there are a few moments when this plodding movie puts aside its bathroom humor. At one point, Alley’s character loses her job as an accountant and ends up working in a department store as one of Santa’s elves — complete with pointy shoes. When a child asks her if she’s an elf, Alley, who got her first big break in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, replies, “No, I’m a Vulcan. Would you like a little death grip?”

Though Alley, Travolta, and their canine counterparts do their zany best to be irresistible, Look Who’s Talking Now! probably won’t become a yuletide classic. Even so, the happy ending of this harmless comedy serves one purpose: reassuring doubting kids that Santa really does exist, a lesson parents might like — at least until the li’l ones climb into the big guy’s lap and ask for a dog for Christmas. C+