*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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