Wednesday, May 26, 2021


I think if Disney made a movie about Hannibal Lecter it would be about how great a psychiatrist he was before he started indulging in other appetites. The ill-conceived, and lengthy, Cruella offers a look at the origins of the paper-thin villain from One Hundred and One Dalmatians who wanted to steal and murder dogs to skin for fur coats. Honestly, did anyone really need more than two-hours to explore extra layers and motivations of a character like Cruella De Vil?

The film is certainly stylish, and does offer its share of memorable moments over a 136-minute running time which also includes an unexpected The Devil Wears Prada plot about 70s fashion. Emma Stone stars as the orphan who would grow up to be a thief, a fashion designer, and eventually notorious celebrity known simply as Cruella. The screenplay also brings back Jasper (Joel Fry) and Horace (Paul Walter Hauser), the two henchmen from One Hundred and One Dalmatians, reimaging them as childhood friends and fellow thieves who she eventually takes for granted when Cruella's ambitions get the better of her. And, because it is a Disney movie, we also get a pair of dogs with inspirationally long lifelines and their dog tricks.

Cruella is a mixed bag. Stone has fun with the character, and the film certainly has flourishes in costuming and design that are enjoyable to look at. It's also at least 45 minutes too long as it meanders around before the inevitable twist which will finally put events into perspective. The live-action take on a villain's point of view is reminiscent of Maleficent, although the results are more like its lesser sequel Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. The cast is rounded out by Emma Thompson as the city's fashionista The Baroness, Mark Strong as her most faithful servant, and Kayvan Novak and Kirby Howell-Baptiste as characters inspired by the original film who, honestly, aren't necessary to the plot other than to remind you this is based on another property Disney wants you to watch.

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