Misguided Husband (should just call him Ben really, shouldn’t I) had a little business meeting (with each other) the other day and decided that my feedback on his reviews should come at the end of that review and not at the beginning of the next one. This is the crossover post, as I don’t want to dismiss the Sleeping Beauty review… which I personally think was his best review yet. If you haven’t read it, please do.
I did think he’d enjoy that one a little more, but he didn’t hate it and we did get the My Three Mum’s song, so… swings and roundabouts.
Onto 101 Dalmations and I’ll catch you again shortly.
Synopsis for ‘101 Dalmatians’:
“Delightful family film in which 99 really cute puppies spend half of the movie’s runtime, desperately trying to avoid being heinously murdered and skinned! With villains that receive virtually no penance for their attempted cruelty as well as relentless tobacco abuse, 101 Dalmatians is sure to delight both adults and young children alike!”
But of course the synopsis on IMDB and every other movie website doesn’t say this, because then who the hell would watch it? Of course even without a synopsis like that, I didn’t want to watch the film, because I’m a Disney-cynic who is watching through every Disney film to find out exactly which of their films an average adult dude would find enjoyable without the bias of any childhood nostalgia. Oh, and because my wife has made me… For the record, we’re on film sixteen now. I’ve liked one film and tolerated around three more (considering we’ve had plenty of relatively unknown oddities, propaganda travel films and deer-snuff, this is actually quite a success). So the odds of me enjoying this motion picture are fairly slim even before we delve into a healthy slice of attempted puppy skinning.
The big problem with this film is just how much of its eighty minutes, is spent building up drama about something we KNOW will not happen. I mean, could you imagine if Cruella De Vil had succeeded in her plans? If she had, people would never even mention the mummy-murder from Bambi in tear-jerking Disney scenes. People would just say, “remember when that psycho woman drowned some of the cutest puppies ever animated and skinned them in front our childhood eyes? I don’t, but my therapist reckons it’s a key reason why I fear interpersonal contact and why I like to peel labels of bottles whilst crying.” Even Bambi would never go THAT far, so any rational adult is left with a sense of inevitability with how things will play out. That’s not to say a film with a largely inevitable plot cannot be good. It’s just that for me personally… this film… isn’t really.
Cruella De Vil. With that name, her parents never gave her a chance. When your family name contains ‘devil’, adding ‘cruel’ to the forename is asking for trouble. Either that, or her maiden name was ‘Cruella Smith’ and she subconsciously seeked out a husband that could befit her first name better? Either way, I reckon it would be nice to mix it up or swerve the audience by calling your villain ‘Aurora Feelgood’ or ‘Suzy Sweetie-Pie’.
How can you doubt this woman now?! She now looks like a good egg and sounds like a delightful woman who really wants to fuss some cute little dogs or at worst a slightly pervy old lesbian. A Suzy Sweetie-Pie would surely never skin a puppy. So when it transpires that Suzy Sweetie-Pie does indeed have desires of skinning baby canines for winter garments, the audience is well and truly shook. Or perhaps, just maybe, I’m overthinking this? I have to find something to think though, because this film clearly isn’t going to help me out.
Cruella (or Suzy as she’s now known, only by me) leads me onto the thing that I find unforgivable in this movie. There are two things that we have to see, on our screens before the end of the film , as a result of Cruella’s evil intentions. These are non-negotiable. The first is that the puppies, the adult dogs and the owners are happily reunited by the end, safe in the knowledge that the threat is now null and void. The second is that we see the perpetrators of grotesque villainy suffer a horrific fate, preferably with extreme pain and/or death, or even just honest to goodness imprisonment for our delectation. Now, the bad buys having a minor car crash and getting a bit of snow on them IS NOT A FUCKING COMEUPPANCE!!!!!!! Where’s the perverse joy in her suffering that we, the viewers, so desperately crave? And as a result, even though the puppies, dogs and owners are indeed reunited at the end, what’s to say that Cruella and the two bad dudes don’t just show up at the house after the films finished, and take the puppies at gunpoint?!
The second thing that really stood out to me in this film was the animation. It’s different to the Disney that I’ve been used to so far. I’m not an artist or a professional animator, so I can’t tell you the technical reasons or names for why or how it’s different, but if there were differences in prior films, they never really stood out. This time however, it’s a glaring step forward. Or more accurately, a giant saturated step back. The vibrancy of colours from previous films has gone and everything looks slightly grim. Combine this with the plot and everything felt cold. On top of that, everything looks so…. drawn. Everything looks like it has a pencil outline. I just don’t like it. This is very much just my personal opinion. It’s like the animators (who I’ve complained about a few times for their self-indulgent tendencies) wanted to really make sure you know that they were good with a pencil.
I’ve said this before, but I would much prefer my Disney film to be stupid and illogical as it gives me so much more to work with than a film that I can only describe as “meh”. Regardless of quality, or how much I like a film, I want plenty of “why the fuck is that happening?” moments like we had in the last film ‘Sleeping Beauty’. Although, not always to my taste, at least kept my attention and gave me plenty to say. What those films give, and what this film didn’t, is 101 reasons to care.
When I was watching this film with Ben, it did occur to me why I hadn’t watched it as much as some of the others, growing up. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good film. It just drags a lot. I did enjoy the Twilight Bark scene, although Ben started groaning everytime it continued longer than expected… and it did go on for a loooong time. Again, I’ll absolutely agree with him about the puppies being cute. They are adorable. Almost makes me want to get a dalmation!