by Tony Medley
I have no idea what the budget is for this film, but half of it was probably spent on Emma Stone’s makeup.
Set in the 1970s, Stone plays Estella “Cruella” de Vil, in a prequel to the novel “101 Dalmatians” by Dodie Smith which became a film in 2006 starring Glenn Close, who is one of the producers of this film. Here we learn the backstory of how Cruella became the evil person she morphed into.
Directed by Craig Gillespie from a script with credits to both Dana Fox and Tony McNamara, the delights of this movie are the over-the-top performances of Stone and Emma Thompson who plays Baroness von Hellman. It’s a treat to watch each of them try to be more eccentric than the other. They both overact with a vengeance that it seems both enjoy. The sets are beautiful and the costumes outlandish.
Supporting performances by Joel Fry and Paul Walter Houser (who gave a terrific performance for Gillespie in 2017’s I, Tonya) as Jasper and Horace respectively, Cruella’s accomplices, and Mark Strong as Paul the Valet (in a role strongly reminiscent of Stanley Tucci’s role in 2006’s The Devil Wears Prada) are excellent. In fact, the entire film has a vague similarity to the Prada production.
Knowing Disney’s power and considering the quality of this film, it should be in line for lots of Oscar® nominations. Well, back in the day it would have, but today’s Oscars® are so woke that quality and entertainment values and comedy are disdained and take seats way in the back, if not in the balcony.
Adding to the joy of this film is the music comprised of a lot of old songs, like Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots are Made for Walkin’ “(which was actually a hit in 1966), Tony Martin’s “I Get Ideas,” which was a hit in in 1951 (from a 1927 tango cancion called “Adios Muchachos”), John Lennon’s “Come together” sung by Ike & Tina Turner, and many more. I wonder why they didn’t use The Beatles’ version sung by Lennon which is much better than this one.
I, frankly, had not the slightest interest in seeing this, but since Disney sent me a link I watched it and am glad I did. Even though it’s pretty long, this comedy is a treat.
Tony Medley is an attorney, columnist, and MPAA-accredited film critic whose reviews and articles may be read in several newspapers and at rottentomatoes.com, CWEB.com, Movie Review Query Engine (mrqe.com), and at www.tonymedley.com. His most recent book is “Learn to Play Bridge Like a Boss,” the most complete “all in one” book for beginners and also for advanced players. He is also the author of three books, UCLA Basketball:The Real Story, Sweaty Palms: The Neglected Art of Being Interviewed, the first book ever written on the interview for the interviewee and still in print after more than thirty years, having sold over a half million copies, and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Bridge, which has sold over 100,000 copies. He is an American Contract Bridge League Silver Life Master and an ACBL accredited director.