This is a camp for kids, a riff on “All About Eve” and “The Devil Wears Prada”, which, in the long run, is better than your average prequel (I’m looking at you, “Solo: A Star Wars Story”) The scene is also a celebration of excess that secretly aligns with the Disney Corporation’s worldview.
Set long before the saga of Anita and Roger Darling and their fertile Dalmatian, this is the story of how Cruella – née Estella – is orphaned in London, arrives with young Griffers Jasper (Ziggy Gardner) and Horace (Joseph Macdonald), and Her works lead the way in the service of a ruthless top fashion designer (Thompson), whose misdeeds eventually led Cruella to become, as she declares herself “brilliant, nasty and a little crazy”.
Does this adequately explain Cruella de Vil, whose bloodshed for the puppies’ skins promoted the 1961 animated classic and its source, Dodie Smith’s 1956 novel? No. The big mouse would, of course, like to white out that little detail. It does so with a intoxicating dose of Disneyified glam, courtesy of “I, Tonya” director Craig Gillespie.
But try as you might, Stone’s Cruella never really reads as a villain. She seems, at worst, a spiritually empty cousin to convention-buckling literary icons such as Pippi Longstocking and Anne of Green Gables, whose ostentatiousness (and wayward red hair) become defining strengths.
Aspiring fashionista Estella learns to tap into her inner Cruella in 1970s London, drawing on Vivienne Westwood-esque punk rock aesthetics to stage flash-mob runway events that show her more mainstream nemesis. Sure, she does this in the name of revenge, after discovering that the Baroness is responsible for her mother’s death, but this is hardly “Kill Bill”. She may ignore a trio of Dalmatians belonging to her owner, but she is basically a friend to the dog, with some furry mutts as pets.
Cruella’s biggest crime seems to be her hardcore vocals, especially when she is thrashing the grown-up Jasper (Joel Frye) and Horace (Paul Walter Hauser), who were shown mumbling in the 1961 film. Its exterior may tip its black-and-white color to Joker and Harley Quinn, but Stone’s Cruella is not – despite the frequent use of the term – a “psycho.”
Stone & Fry actually has a good zing of chemistry, but one of the things I like best about this film is the lack of interest in adding Cruella. Both she and the Baroness do not have time for romance, a feature that can be read as an indictment of single, ambitious women, but my guess is that Disney, as always, capitalizes on the cultural moment in which the sisters She is doing it for herself.
In that vein, it is also possibly the studio’s weirdest film, with one of its few likable characters being flamboyant Ziggy Stardust Androgyn, high-end thrift shop owner Artie (John McCurry). The soundtrack, meanwhile, is a primer on obscure risk anthems like “Whole Lotta Love,” “Sympathy for the Devil,” and, the hilarious, S&M-tinged “I Want Be Your Dog.” Yes, some of these tunes may be well worn, but they are probably not old hat for younger audiences. And they’re definitely all more fun earworms for kids (and anyone living with them) than “Let It Go”, am I right, parents?
In fact, it may be Disney’s most honest film ever, a love letter to the spectacle and joy of texture – and if little people get hurt on your back, well, that’s it. . In the make-believe land of “Cruella”, which combines a raucous pair of antiheroines.