Editor's note: For an interview with 'Crocodile' star Paul Hogan, see Page W6.

In a cinematic world populated by gross-out comedies and violent, lurid thrillers, it would be hard for any other film not to look better by comparison.

So maybe that explains why " 'Crocodile' Dundee in Los Angeles" — a comedy sequel so lightweight it threatens to blow away at any point — comes as such a refreshing change of pace.

It's not a great movie, by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, sometimes it's not even a very good one. Compared to most of what else is out there, though, it's so good-natured and tame that you can't help but let it win you over.

And sure, it's probably a decade too late to be doing this movie (during the height of America's love affair with the Land Down Under). But that's also allowed Aussie comedian Paul Hogan to weasel his way back into our hearts, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Here he reprises his role as animal hunter and wrangler Mick "Crocodile" Dundee. He and American journalist Sue Charleton (Linda Kozlowski) still haven't gotten married, but they do have a 9-year old son, Mikey (newcomer Serge Cockburn).

And as a family, they leave their Outback home to go to the City of Angels so Sue can assume temporary editorial duties on one of her father's news publications.

But while Sue is off investigating a shady movie-studio head (Jere Burns), Mick and his son play tourist and get into trouble (among other things, they stop traffic on the L.A. highways to rescue a skunk).

Eventually, Mick finds himself getting involved in Sue's journalistic investigation as he goes "undercover" to ferret out the bad guys, so to speak, and keep his family from harm.

The fish-out-of-water bit may not be the freshest material (why someone didn't think to make this film a parody of TV's "Crocodile Hunter" is anyone's guess).

And admittedly, it probably needs a stronger director than the workmanlike Simon Wincer (this kind of stuff is probably "below" Peter Weir, but what's "Mad Max" creator George Miller doing these days?)

So it's fortunate that the film can coast on Hogan's considerable charms. Smartly, he never forces the issue and has some very nice moments with Cockburn and Paul Rodriguez, who plays a movie extra Mick befriends.

Perhaps best of all, the movie is mostly free of the toilet humor and other objectionable material that so many "family" films seem to include these days.

" 'Crocodile' Dundee in Los Angeles" is rated PG for scattered profanity, violence (gunfire and some slapstick), mildly vulgar humor and brief glimpses of nude artwork. Running time: 95 minutes.

E-MAIL: jeff@desnews.com