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DVD Review: 102 Dalmatians (2000)
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Week of Geek: Disney's 101 Dalmatians

By Stephanie G

102 Dalmatians
(2000)
Directed by Kevin Lima
Starring Glenn Close, Ioan Gruffudd, Tim McInnerny, Eric Idle, Alice Evans
Walt Disney Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: September 16, 2008

Many sequels fall under the pressure of their predecessors. Disney made a great attempt to try and recreate the magic of the first 101 Dalmatians live-action film by re-casting Glenn Close, whose portrayal of the villain Cruella DeVil brought the first movie great success. Unfortunately, this film proved that only her performance was worth watching.

102 Dalmatians begins with the puppy-loving Ella, who has been rehabilitated from her evil puppy-hating ways and gets out of jail on parole. In order to acclimate back into society and to serve as a classic bit of comedic irony, she decides to save a dog pound that is threatened by eviction. Unfortunately her rehabilitation trance doesn’t last for long, with the sound of Big Ben, she snaps out of sweet kind Ella and turns back into the fur-obsessed Cruella DeVil.

I must say this movie definitely tops the wardrobe department from the last film. With the theme centered around fashion, it gave the costume designers a great opportunity to push the limit on what they could create using only black and white. Cruella’s wardrobe, which changed practically every five minutes, did keep me entertained and eager to see what she would be wearing next.

The dalmatians serve the same role as the first movie, by being self-efficient and extremely obedient. Being a dog-lover myself, my personal favorite puppy was Opal who was born with no spots. Fearless and incredibly cute, I enjoyed watching her quest to find her find place with all the other puppies.

The two main human characters and dog owners Kevin played by Ioan Gruffudd and Chloe played Alice Evans were the sterotypical empty Disney made-for-TV actors. I felt as if they walked straight off of an episode of Hannah Montana. Ioan Gruffudd played a carefree and somewhat boring average Joe. Juxtapose to his more serious role as an action hero in the Fantastic Four, both share a lack of depth in character. Of course feelings bloom between the two dog lovers but it sadly reminds me of a G-rated kindergarten romance. Unfortunately, many live-action Disney movies always seem to fall into this trap. I guess you can get away with more sexual references in a cartoon.

There were two other recognizable celebrity appearances. One was the voice of Eric Idle, who plays a mentally confused talking parrot. Waddlesworth, who believes that he is actually a dog, serves as the only other character in the movie with a personality besides Cruella. At times he helped to break up the monotony of the scenes with his sassy one-liner’s, but his spot jokes became very tired and old by the end of the film.

The second famous actor, Gérard Depardieu, who played a bumbling fashion designer who teams up with Cruella to steal 102 puppies for her designer coat (now with a hooded collar), had a shockingly small amount of lines in the movie. Almost all of his time on screen was reserved for slapstick comedy, in which I perceive this to be extremely funny for anyone under the age of 9.

In all, it was great to see Glenn Close revisit this role, but the movie lacks a certain amount of adult humor that usually keeps the parents and older Disney fans such as myself pleasantly entertained. This movie was made entirely for very young kids to enjoy. To sum it up, one easy uncomplicated plot, one fabulously dressed villain, and hundreds of adorable puppies for children to enjoy (and give their parents a little less than 2 hours’ worth of peace.)

DVD Bonus Features

Creating Cruella
This feature explains how Glenn Close transforms into the evil Cruella DeVil with costumes and makeup.

Animal Actors
A behind the scenes look of the animal stars of the film along side their trainers.

Visual Effects 102
Allows the viewer to interact by showing the different steps the digital effects team took to create all of the special effects you see in the film. Follow along with your remote control to take Opals spots off of her coat, since they were unable to find a spotless Dalmatian!

Deleted Scene – Cruella’s Release
This scene, which was shot in a real prison, shows Cruella checking out and reclaiming her clothes. This was taken out of the film because of redundancy. It was the first time the audience would see her reaction to fur, but the filmmakers decided to take it out since they already had another scene planned.

DVD-Rom Features
Place this DVD-Rom into your computer and you will find the Interactive game Cruella’s Costume Creator, where you can mix and match all the different outfits she wore during the film.

The bonus features also include outtakes, puppy auditions, and a feature that helps you pick out the perfect dog for your personality. There’s also a feature-length commentary track with director Kevin Lima (who has since gone on to direct Disney’s Enchanted), along with the animal trainers and coordinators.

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