Glenn Close is
perfect as Cruella De Vil in the 1996 live action
version of Walt Disney's "101 Dalmatians." I only wish
the movie surrounding her was better.
"101 Dalmatians" is again available on DVD.
The original 1961 animated movie was enjoyable. Not one of the best Walt Disney produced animated features, "101 Dalmatians" was nonetheless an easy movie to enjoy. The canine puppies had all the charm of human children with their innocence and fears. The voice talent was well cast. And Cruella De Vil (Betty Lou Gerson) was the epitome of classic villains. Scary and yet humorous, De Vil was worth the price of admission. The formula worked for 35 years as Disney re-released the movie in theaters, and then the studio had a lot of success by releasing the movie on home video with success.
So why did Disney mess with success by making a live-action version? In theory, the idea could've worked quite well. With the casting of Glenn Close as Cruella De Vil, Disney automatically had star power and someone who filled the role nicely. But the film surrounds her with dogs who don't talk and humans who are fairly dull in comparison. This is not to say that Jeff Daniels and Joely Richardson are bad in this movie, because they're not. But their characters aren't very interesting.
The dogs, and who could resist Dalmatians, are cute but look like any professionally trained film animal. Their personalities seem like they're based on an off-camera trainer. It's probably not a fair comparison to the animated version because animators can make animals do whatever they want. I'm charmed by real dogs, trained or not. Dogs are cool! But the live action version doesn't feel right.
The live-action version follows the original film fairly closely. Pongo and Perdita have a litter of puppies and Cruella wants them for their fur. She hires two bumbling crooks (Hugh Laurie and Mark Williams) to steal the puppies and mayhem ensues.
Close is wonderfully over the top as De Vil. She captures Gerson's portrayal with her persona, then makes it her own. Perhaps the movie could've been called "Cruella De Vil," but that's about the only time the movie picks up pace.
The movie did respectable box office when it was released in 1996, and children seem to still enjoy it now on DVD, even though the dogs don't talk like they did in the original. Disney "purists" like myself find the whole idea of remaking a classic, especially when the original was animated, film robbery. What was the point in trying to remake something that was good to begin with?
Special thanks to Click Communications
Photos: © WDHE. All rights reserved.
|DVD Quick Glimpse|