102 Dalmatians
dir Kevin Lima
scr Kristen Buckley, Brian Regan, Bob Tzudiker, Noni White
with Glenn Close, Ioan Gruffudd, Alice Evans, Gerard Depardieu, Tim McInnerny, Ben Crompton, Carol Macready, David Horovitch, Ian Richardson, Jim Carter, Timothy West, Eric Idle
release US 22.Nov.00; UK 8.Dec.00
Disney 00/US 1h34 2 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
Cunning plan. Cruella (Close) explains her evil idea to LePelt (Depardieu) while her faithful, accident-prone assistant Alonso (McInnerny) looks on.
Cruella DeVil's back in yet another hyperventilating Disney action movie aimed unabashedly at the very young with its slapstick action sequences and absolutely no wit or intelligence. But never mind. Cruella (Close) has been cured of her puppy-fur obsessions and now wants to be called just Ella, champion of the underdog, so to speak. She's devoted her fortune to helping out Westminster's only dog shelter, run by the scruffy-yet-adorable Kevin (Solomon and Gaenor's Gruffudd). But Cruella's equally adorable parole officer Chloe (Evans), herself an owner of happy dalmatian family, doesn't trust this change of heart.

Once again the energy level is very high from start to finish, although thankfully John Hughes (who wrote the first live-action 101 Dalmatians) had nothing to do with the script, so we're spared the Home Alone hijinks this time. Instead, we just get Big Ben in nearly every shot accompanied by general mayhem, while Close wears a series of utterly fabulous frocks (by Oscar winner Anthony Powell). She also gets to chew the scenery to smithereens, and is actually quite fun to watch most of the time, while the kids will scream with delight when she gets her just desserts in the end. Unfortunately, there's nothing much for the adults besides a couple of well-aimed gags, some astonishing effects and animal stunts, and a decent enough cast, although Depardieu is lost in the shuffle as an evil French furrier. Basically, it's mostly just loud silliness that grates on the nerves as the movie trundles to its sweet/uproarious conclusion. It would be nice if we could just buy the cuddly toys and skip the film. Fat chance.

[U--themes] 5.Dec.00

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall