Tag Archives: Cruella de Vil

My Thoughts on: Cruella (2021)

*warning minor plot spoilers for Cruella can be found below

I still have no idea how we got an origin story for Cruella DeVil, and I maintain that nobody actually asked for this film to be made. But since it was made and looked like a lot of fun, I decided to go ahead and see what it was all about.

And, to my delight, I actually enjoyed Cruella for the most part, though the film is far from perfect. Emma Stone absolutely KILLS it as the titular character, which isn’t something I thought I’d say at first, but by the end of the film I was completely invested in her as Cruella. And speaking of Emmas, I’m also a big fan of Emma Thompson’s work as the Baroness. She is, for plot reasons, my new favorite villainous character and I absolutely love to hate her due to her work in this film. She is the quintessential “you hate her guts but you can’t stop watching” type of character and by the end of the story you’re just itching to see her taken down.

Also have to give a shout out to John McCrea who plays Artie. Outside of Emma Stone as Cruella, he is my favorite part of this film. I love how he plays the character, and I wish there was more of Artie in this film because he is a delight to watch! And I also have to mention how much I enjoyed Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser as Jasper and Horace respectively. The verbal interplay between the two is so very funny at times, I loved to watch it.

All of that being said….Cruella does have its fair share of flaws. For one, this film is too long for the story it’s trying to tell. I feel like if about twenty minutes were shaved off and the plot subsequently tightened up, it would’ve done the film a huge favor. It’s not that any part of the story is bad, it just takes too long to get where it’s going. This is especially true in the opening of the film, which takes way too long to get to the point. In fact, the opening is so meandering that I almost lost interest in the film at the very beginning.

The other big flaw comes late in the film right before the last act gets going. This is where the story almost goes off the rails but thankfully it gets everything together for a good finish. Also, I’m not entirely sure if all of the narration from Cruella was necessary, it sometimes took me out of the moment.

One final flaw I have to highlight is the CGI. Maybe it was just me, but during the film it was blindingly obvious when certain canine characters were being CGI-generated. I get why it has to be done, but it’s distracting when you’re watching a scene and suddenly your brain registers that the dog (or dogs in several scenes) is not real. The point I’m trying to make is that if you’re going to CGI a dog, don’t make it obvious.

Fortunately, once the story finally gets going, it’s a good story. My favorite parts are all the scenes where Cruella appears in her trendy outfits. I swear the costumes in this film had better get recognized at the Oscars next year because I could look at Cruella’s costumes all day long and never get bored. I love the contrast between the Baroness’ idea of fashion and Cruella’s, you can tell immediately how they differ and why the latter’s is so popular. I also like the way that the main character is pulled between her competing personalities of Estella and Cruella. It’s an interesting take on the character because not only does it set up that this version of Cruella is different from the animated character, it also insinuates that she does have the capacity to become that character if she so wished. For what it’s worth, I’m happy this version of Cruella is different. Her story has layers now, and she’s a borderline sympathetic character now (though I wouldn’t go so far as to call her one of the “good guys” she’s more of an in-between character by film’s end).

The other thing I really liked about Cruella? If you read between the lines, this film is simultaneously an origin story for Cruella deVil AND a set up for an all-new live-action 101 Dalmatians with a new Roger and Anita. Seriously, I will be shocked if there is not a new 101 Dalmatians movie announced in the near future, all the pieces have been laid for it to happen. And based on how Cruella ends, I could see THIS version of 101 Dalmatians playing out with a significant twist, though I won’t say what it is lest I spoil the plot of Cruella. I will say that there is a viable opening for a sequel and I wouldn’t be surprised if Disney makes one happen in the next few years.

In the end, I’m glad I went to see Cruella, it’s flaws don’t overshadow the good and it’s a fairly interesting take on a character that honestly I didn’t think could be expanded upon, but I’m glad they did.

Let me know what you think about Cruella in the comments below and have a great day!

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Disturbing Disney #7: Cruella wants to do WHAT??

Correct me if I’m wrong, but at times I think Cruella de Vil is severely underrated as a Disney villain. Granted she doesn’t have any magic powers or an army of minions to do her bidding (Jasper and Horace are bumbling nimrods at best), but she DOES have one of the more disturbing plots to ever take place in a Disney film. And she nearly gets away with it too!

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One thing that must be understood about Cruella is that she is obsessed with fur (remember they made this film back in 1961 when real fur coats were very much a common thing) of all kinds, it is all she lives for. Cruella also comes from a great deal of money (considering there’s a huge dilapidated mansion that belongs to her) and is obviously used to getting whatever she wants, whenever she wants. Therefore, when Roger and Anita refuse to sell her their dog’s newborn litter of puppies, Cruella explodes into a rage, declaring that she will “get even” with them. So when the puppies are stolen several months later, it doesn’t take much to make the connection that Cruella had everything to do with it.

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You have to be evil to want to hurt puppies

But why? What does a spoiled heiress need with Dalmatian puppies? In fact, what does she need with 99 Dalmatian puppies? The truth is horrifying: Cruella wants to make COATS out of the puppies! Let that sink in for a minute: this nasty woman wants to have 99 adorable puppies killed, skinned and turned into spotted coats that she can wear. This isn’t merely disturbing; this borders on the sociopathic!! And what’s worse, she wants Jasper and Horace to do the deed. Look at Jasper and Horace for a second:

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I give you the original Dumb and Dumber

Do those idiots look capable of skinning ANYTHING, let alone 99 puppies? Sure, they talk about killing the puppies first by “knocking them on the head” but I have severe doubts in their ability to do it properly. And speaking of, the villains get THIS close to actually starting the process. Just before Pongo and Perdita literally crash into the room, Jasper and Horace have the puppies (plus Sgt. Tibbs the cat) cornered, ready to begin striking them down.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t until about five years ago that I was struck by the full magnitude of what Cruella wanted to do. I’m not sure why that is, except to say that it’s one thing to hear the words “She’s going to make coats out of us” and quite another to understand exactly what those words mean. And this is in a children’s film!! I wonder how kids watching this film in 1961 reacted if/when they figured out what Cruella was trying to do (I bet it wasn’t pretty).

Cruella’s plot to murder a lot of puppies is dark and disturbing and rightly deserves a place in this series. What do you think of Cruella’s twisted plot? Let me know in the comments below, and have a great rest of the day 🙂

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For more Disturbing Disney, see also:

Disturbing Disney #1: The Coachman in Pinocchio (1940)

Disturbing Disney #2: The truth of Pleasure Island in Pinocchio (1940)

Disturbing Disney #3: Escaping Monstro from Pinocchio (1940)

Disturbing Disney #4: Dumbo loses his mother (1941)

Disturbing Disney #5 The death of Bambi’s Mother

Disturbing Disney #6: Faline vs. the dogs (1942)

Disturbing Disney #8: The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met (from Make Mine Music, 1946)

Disturbing Disney #9: Dr. Facilier’s Fate (The Princess and the Frog, 2009)

Disturbing Disney #10: The rat in Lady and the Tramp (1955)

Disturbing Disney #11: Clayton’s Death in Tarzan (1999)

Disturbing Disney #12: The Bear from The Fox and the Hound (1981)

Disturbing Disney #13: “Smoking them out” in The Fox and the Hound (1981)

Disturbing Disney #14: The Salt Trap in The Jungle Book (1994)

Disturbing Disney #15: Night on Bald Mountain from Fantasia (1940)

Disturbing Disney #16: King Triton destroys Ariel’s grotto

Disturbing Disney #17: Ratigan becomes a monster in The Great Mouse Detective

Disturbing Disney #18: The Queen’s assignment for her Huntsman

Disturbing Disney #19: Cinderella’s dress is destroyed (1950)

Disturbing Disney #20: Quasimodo is crowned ‘King of Fools’ (1996)

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101 Dalmatians “Cruella de Vil” (1961)

“Cruella de Vil” is one of those memorable Disney songs that tends to stick in the brain long after you’ve seen the movie it belongs to. It is also a villain song that is not actually performed by the villain. (The song was composed by Mel Leven and is the major song moment of the film).

To set up some context, 101 Dalmatians centers on two Dalmatians, Pongo and Perdita and their human “pets”, Roger and Anita Radcliffe (Pongo belonged to Roger and Perdita belonged to Anita before the two married). Some time after their pets marry, Perdita is expecting puppies when an unexpected visitor drops by; Cruella de Vil was Anita’s school mate and she has apparently dropped by on occasion in the past (considering Roger recognizes the car when it pulls up).

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Anita DARLING!

Roger has spent the last several days working on a new song, but he’s struggled to come up with appropriate lyrics. Suddenly, while mulling over Cruella’s name, he realizes its the perfect inspiration for the song! (Cruella de Vil is an obvious play on the words “Cruel Devil”)

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“Cruella de Vil” mockingly paints Cruella as this devilish figure that inspires fear and terror wherever she goes. Roger takes great delight in performing this number while a slightly anxious Anita tries to hush him up (as Cruella is moments away from stepping through the door). Roger eventually retreats to his music room to continue (literally) banging the song out while Cruella comes through like a fur-lined whirlwind. Cruella SEEMS nice enough at first, if a little eccentric (she has an unhealthy obsession with furs) but noticeably, Pongo and Perdita react negatively to her presence. While Cruella has a very one-sided conversation with Anita, Roger plays variations on his song with the piano, a trumpet and a slightly obnoxious trombone (to Cruella’s annoyance; she has no idea what Anita sees in Roger).

For some reason, Cruella is fixated on knowing when Perdita’s puppies will arrive (she initially thinks they’ve already been born). After promising to return when the puppies are born (in approximately three weeks), Cruella leaves as abruptly as she arrived and a teasing Roger returns to continue his song. As mocking as the song is, it’s all meant in good fun (for now anyways).

This is a song I’ve always loved to dance around to, it’s short, fun and a classic example from the early post-Golden Age of Disney films.

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