The Virginian-Pilot
                             THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT 
              Copyright (c) 1996, Landmark Communications, Inc.

DATE: Thursday, March 14, 1996               TAG: 9603140021
TYPE: Movie Review 
                                             LENGTH: Medium:   68 lines


IF A PLUCKY pig named ``Babe'' can talk Oscar voters into nominating it for best picture of the year, there's no stopping the talkative heroes of 1993's ``Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey'' from returning.

Back, and wisecracking faster than a pig could root, are Chance, the brash bulldog; Sassy, the Himalayan cat; and Shadow, the wise golden retriever. The film (which is actually a sequel to a remake, based on the Sheila Burnford book ``The Incredible Journey'') is called ``Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco,'' a mouthful even for Chance to chew.

The good news about this inevitable sequel is that the talk is often irreverent and savvy enough to divert parents who tag along.

Some of the lines are corny, and there are the requisite pee and vomit jokes to make the youngest fans giggle, but there are also some authentically cool cracks. Sassy, the kitty, is particularly adept at put-downs.

The bad news is that the new adventure isn't very adventurous; they mainly just wander around the city until the time is filled. It's not on the thrill level of the 1993 film, which had bears and other wild critters confronting the trio.

The humans, led by Robert Hayes of the ``Airplane'' spoofs, aren't lovable enough to prompt a walk around the kitty litter, much less a trek across an urban jungle. Wisely, they're disposed of early.

The humans fly off to Canada on a camping trip, planning to take the animals along. The pets escape from their cages at the airport and plan to follow the Golden Gate Bridge back home. It's not quite the Yellow Brick Road, though. Mean mutts pick a fight and dogcatchers make trouble. In the most unlikely subplot, a child is saved from a burning building.

It's all just noise and visuals to supplement the real attraction - the talk.

Ralph Waite, formerly papa of ``The Waltons'' and a star with Virginia Stage Company in recent years, replaces the late Don Ameche as the voice of Shadow. His dialogue is mainly bits of wisdoms. They aren't quite pearls, but serviceable.

Michael J. Fox, not doing so well in human flicks lately, returns as the wisecracking Chance. He announces that he's ``into leather'' as he pursues a baseball. As he flees the bad guys, he moans, ``paws, don't fail me now.''

Sassy, with the voice of two-time Oscar winner Sally Field, is the biggest self-proclaimed star since Miss Piggy - proudly pointing to her mixture of ``brains and beauty.'' Forced to bed down with the canines, she comments haughtily that ``nothing smells worse than wet dog.''

It's all pretty routine, and it's highly predictable, but the little ones giggled heartily at the screening I attended, and the parents were diverted. ILLUSTRATION: MOVIE REVIEW

``Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco''

Cast: The voices of Michael J. Fox, Sally Field, Ralph Waite, Al

Michaels, Sinbad

Director: David R. Ellis

Screenplay: Chris Hauty and Julie Hickson

Music: Bruce Broughton

MPAA rating: G (canine wisecracks, vomit and pee jokes)

Mal's rating: three stars

Locations: Cinemark, Greenbrier in Chesapeake; Circle 4, Main

Gate in Norfolk; Kemps River, Lynnhaven Mall, Pembroke, Surf-N-Sand

in Virginia Beach

by CNB