Thursday, November 3, 2016

Movie Review: "101 Dalmatians" (1996)

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Movie"101 Dalmatians"
Director: Stephen Herek
Year: 1996
Rating: G
Running Time: 1 hour, 43 minutes

Maniacal fashion designer Cruella DeVil (Glenn Close) wants to steal one of her employee Anita's (Joely Richardson) Dalmatian puppies to skin them and make a spotted coat out of them.  

35 years after the release of their animated classic "101 Dalmatians," Disney decided to remake it into a live action film starring Glenn Close as Cruella De Vil, Jeff Daniels as John, Joley Richardson as Anita, and actual dogs as the dalmatians Pongo, Perdita and their puppies. #CoolStoryBro.

First of all, this remake does not need to exist, but knowing where Disney has now headed since 1996, it was bound to be remade at some point. We do have to say Glenn Close is spellbinding and realistic as a live action Cruella De Vil. She fits the role quite well and performs it with the right amount of over-the-top cartoon villainy, borrowing a lot of the evil dialogue from the original animated film. She has been turned into a high-end fashion designer who is obsessed with fur, which is a reasonable jump. Cruella is also the employer of Anita, who works as one of her designers. Ironically, it is actually Anita's design of a spotted outfit that drives De Vil's obsession with making, owning, and wearing a Dalmatian fur coat coat. After Anita meets John, the two quickly fall in love, as do her dog Perdita and John's dog Pongo. They have 15 puppies, just like they do in the animated version, and upon hearing the puppies have been born, Cruella thrusts herself into their living room demanding the spotless rascals for her coat. Watching this movie in its live action version makes us all the more aware of just how screwed up the story is as a whole....a woman wanting to skin puppies for a coat?! We take it back, this would not have been made in 2016 because PETA would have a field day and attempt to get the production shut down as soon as they found down it started. 2016 is the year of complete and utter offense, y'all.

Beyond Close's performance, there aren't a lot of great things to say about this recycled family film. The dogs, puppies, and other animals are of course cute. They frolic about to the pleasure of our dog who seemed enthralled by actions of the animals on screen. We were modestly entertained by the utter cuteness of it all. There is a lot of slapstick humor throughout the film mostly from the bumbling of Cruella's lackies Jasper and Horace, played by Hugh Laurie and  Mark Williams. This slapstick is very dopey and mostly falls flat for anyone other than a young child. We also wondered, if Disney and co. were going to bother to turn an animated classic into a live action film, why make it more cartoony than the actual cartoon it's based on? Food for thought.

This in the end, "101 Dalmatians" feels like an attempt at a cash grab that doesn't bring anything new or better to the table. Disney has learned better with its latest live action offerings.

My Rating: 4/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 5%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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