102 DALMATIANS (2000) 

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Glenn Close
Ioan Gruffudd
Alice Evans
Tim McInnerny
Gerard Depardieu
Ben Crompton
Carol Macready
Jim Carter
Eric Idle (Voice)

Kevin Lima



Time: 92 mins.
Rating: G
Genre: Family/Comedy

Academy Award nomination for Best Costume Design.

Being both a big fan of the original animated feature and the first live action iteration of this story, I decided to give 102 DALMATIANS a shot at the theater. I also love puppies, so I figured I would enjoy at least part of the film. I don't usually like films aimed directly at children, but sometimes they can be just as fun for adults, like TOY STORY. Unfortunately, this one wasn't. The kids seemed to be entertained, but if you're over the age of 8, there isn't much there for you to grab onto. The story is fairly thin and the style very cartoonish. The acting is decent, but I thought the animals performed better than the humans. It's amazing what they can get these creatures to do. The plot isn't very different from the original, only this time Cruella de Vil (Close) is supposed to be rehabilitated, cured of her lust for spotted puppy fur. To keep her on the straight and narrow, the judge gives her a condition as part of her parole – if she's caught so much as hurting one hair on a dog's head, she gets thrown back into jail and her entire 8 million pound fortune goes to the dogs. The local rescue center that is. She claims to be cured of her obsession and even saves the Second Chance animal shelter. Kevin (Gruffudd), the owner of the shelter, is convinced "Ella" has been transformed and truly loves dogs now. Her probation officer Cloe (Evans) remains unconvinced and certainly doesn't want Cruella anywhere near her dalmatian puppies.

It doesn't take long for the young dog lovers to begin falling in love, with the help of their animals, or for Cruella to resume her old ways. This time she wants a hood for her coat and will therefore need 102 puppies. She enlists the help of the famous French furrier Jean Pierre Le Pelt (Depardieu) to build her masterpiece. To get all the puppies, especially Cloe's, she concocts a plan that gets Kevin thrown in jail and Cloe on her side. It doesn't take them long to figure out what Cruella is up to and what's going to happen to her dogs if they don't find them in time. The finale takes place in a giant French bakery with Cruella desperate to kill Cloe's all white puppy Oddball. In this instance the dogs are definitely smarter than the humans and Cruella gets her goose cooked, so to speak. All's well that ends well. Kevin and Cloe are together, Oddball gets her spots and Cruella gets more jail time. All of the humor in this film comes from the animals. Eric Idle has some of the best jokes as a talking parrot who believes he's a dog. It's pretty funny to watch. The other animals are good as well, but the two who stand out are Cruella's small dog named Fluffy (it is anything but), and Oddball, the all white dalmatian puppy obsessed with getting her spots. It's a sweet subplot to have this adorable creature trying anything to become like her siblings.

"The last time I underestimated a puppy, I wound up in the pokey!"

The actors do an OK job, but aren't as entertaining as the dogs. Gruffudd and Evans have chemistry which is sweet enough to be believable, but is very G rated. Close and Depardieu were so over the top from the first frame they really had nowhere to go. Cruella never seemed remotely like a real human being, so her transformation back to pure evil wasn't a big stretch. It was like watching two different movies whenever she was in the scene – where a cartoon suddenly walked onto the set like Roger Rabbit. This is the main problem with this movie. The pets exhibited more human qualities than the people. Of course, they were given more to do. 102 has some wonderful moments, especially the Lady and the Tramp sequence and the finale, but there's little in between to keep one's interest. The dialogue and story were obviously just thrown together and that's a real shame. There's some good talent in this movie, they just don't have enough interesting things to do. Granted this film is intended for children and you don't want a plot that's too complicated, but they should have been able to create something better than this. If you like watching puppies, than you'll enjoy this movie. They are unbelievably cute and you certainly get what you pay for in that respect. However, if you want to see a film with puppies and a good plot, I suggest renting the classic animated version or the newer 1996 one. It's clear that Disney sunk more time, energy and cash into those versions. Once they had a "franchise" they didn't seem to care what was delivered as long as it made it's theater date. This film had potential and it's sad that they didn't care enough about their audience to take the time needed to make it better.

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