By EW Staff
Updated November 14, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST
Clive Coote

She shot her scenes for ”101 Dalmatians,” Disney’s 1996 remake of its 1961 cartoon feature, in just six weeks. But Close worked the better part of five months on this sequel, which finds Cruella temporarily cured of puppy lust before falling into cahoots with a Parisian fur peddler named Jean Pierre Le Pelt (Depardieu). Major time gobbler: getting Close into umpteen costumes, many with wigs so high and capes so long she had to be ferried from dressing room to soundstage in a van. ”The outfits are perfectly comfortable,” she says — though she had to don a wet suit beneath her plumage for days of egg batter slapstick. ”It’s only the shoes that can pinch.”

While Close wobbled in stilettos, Lima had precarious shoes to fill, too. He’d never done live action before, but parlayed his success as codirector of Disney’s ”Tarzan” into this gig. ”Animated movies take four years of your life,” Lima, 38, explains. ”That’s when things go well. I realized that if I stayed in animation, I’d only get to make maybe two, three more movies in my lifetime.”

Despite leaving ‘toons behind, Lima was determined to coax anthropomorphized expressions from his animal cast with minimal computer enhancements. ”There’s a lot more dog acting in this one,” he says. ”We’re trying to get them to look more like they’re thinking. Of course, all they really want to do is get to the food.” GOOD SIGN Fabulous production values, plus sex appeal from romantic leads Ioan Gruffudd and Alice Evans. THEN AGAIN The finale, involving a giant cake making contraption, may seem like yesterday’s pastry after the pie machine sequence in ”Chicken Run.”

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