THE APPLE DUMPLING GANG RIDES AGAIN - AMC Carrollton 6, Beacon Mall, Bradlick, Crofton Cinema, Dale Cinema, Fair City Mall, Laurel Drive-In, Roth's Montgomery 1, Roth's 301 Drive-In, Super Chief Drive-In, Wheaton Plaza, White Flint 5.

Who cares if the new Walt Disney movie is any good, or even any better or worse than the last one?

Parents who trust the brand name know that there isn't going to be immoral behavior in it, and that there isn't likely to be any on the part of children while they are occupied watching it. Children who are conditioned from television to be passive about drama can be counted on to say they liked it, even if one wonders why they look so blank when they watch and when they make this claim.

These, after all, are made-for-shopping-center pictures, a sub-specialty of the Industry, as are made-for-television movies. One would have thought that the home video screen would have knocked out the idea of paying good money to see films that are nothing more than bland time-passers, but there are still occasions when video baby-sitting is needed outside the house. The adult equivalent is the airplane movie; nobody has fully exploited the potential for films in which the dialogue is not essential, because the earplugs hurt after a while, and the visual part is not essential, either, in case the stewardess or bathroom line blocks the aisle for a while.

Anyway, back to the children's day-care movies. The new one is called "The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again," and is a sequel to an unmemorable 1975 film called "The Apple Dumpling Gang."

What is it like? It's a like a film made by people who don't really care, for an audience of people who don't really care. It stars Tim Conway and Don Knotts, who are not exercising their legitimate comic talents beyond one expression each: Conway crosses his eyes, and Knotts makes his eyeballs disappear upwards.

No particular effort has been made to develop a story line, so the movie consists of bits and pieces. At one point it declares itself as an outlaw story, at another a military one, and then a western, and then a spy one. There was a time, a few years back, when a memo had apparently gone out at the studio to stop the stereotype Indian jokes and women jokes, but it didn't reach the makers of this film, probably because the woman and the Indians hardly matter to the picture, anyway.

Otherwise, this movie won't do your child any harm. What more can you expect?