101 Dalmatians (1996)

Rating: U
Length: 1hr 43
Release: 13.12.1996
Dir: Stephen Herek
About: Anita, a fashion designer, and Roger, a computer game writer, have to rescue the puppies of their dalmatians from Cruella De Vil, an insane woman, who wants to use their fur to make a coat.

The Good

  • In a world where Disney are churning out ‘live action remakes’ in much the same fashion the 90s gave us direct-to-VHS sequels, its hard to recall this as the Mouse House’s first attempt. Given the public’s outcry if casting is deemed ‘wrong’, we must talk about how perfect Jeff, Joey and Glenn are as the live action counterparts to a classic animation. To a fault almost, they do at times keep the outdated views too. However, for the most part, they are perfect. I certainly couldn’t think of anyone better now, or then.
  • I love the direction they went with the animals of the film and how they communicate. Babe had paved the way for talking animals in a live action, but thankfully Disney didn’t see the benefit of this frightening approach. Instead the film uses barks and other audible cues from other animals to imply a conversation. It’s best seen at the stable and the result is rather charming. It’s something that people of all ages can gain a level of understanding from and I love it.

The Bad

  • While I do like the change of careers for our leads, I do wish they had committed a little more to Roger’s computer game designer. It’s implied that he’s freelance and works from home. Yet nothing is really seen of him working outside showing less than 30 seconds of game play.
  • While I find the pairing of Hugh Laurie and Mark Williams delightful, the trouble they find themselves in does stray a little visually into Home Alone territory; it’s a little too big and the response feels a little trademarked to the Wet Bandits.
  • Some of the CGI puppies are showing their age. It’s a shame because it’s only used in odd scenes, but it shows way too much.

The Ugly

  • As an adult, the last 10 minutes or so bug the fuck out of me. At the value of up to £2,000 per pup, there is no way on earth that you’re getting that fairytale ending where:
    1. No one else has reported stolen dogs.
    2. Even if the officer believes they *know* that no other reports have come in, they would not be able to just hand over what is essentially ‘evidence’.
    3. It’s 101 growing DALMATIANS, not handbag sized chihuahuas. There is no way you have the room to humanely keep the pups for even a day.
    4. All the puppies, and subsequent litters, are kept.
    5. I’d say that they couldn’t afford the property they end up in, however that’s moot given the property they *magically* own anyway. Seriously, was one of them a secret billionaire?!
    Essentially, my ageing ass has lived in London and now has an understanding of money. I’m calling bullshit on this ending.

Final Thoughts

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