Who would’ve thought a pack of dalmatians would be so vicious??? Cruella is out, and, along with A Quiet Place: Part II and The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, it marks the unofficial return to movie theaters for many. For Disney, it’s a bit of a departure with plenty of stylistic changes and a reconfiguration of a classic character. But is it actually good?
Members of the MovieBabble staff break down some of the more noteworthy parts of the film in our Cruella Exit Survey.
Describe your overall enjoyment of the film with an appropriate GIF.
Let’s talk about Catherine getting killed by dalmatians.
Jack Edgar: This tweet says it better than I could. I had the LOWEST expectations for this film after this scene. Booo this scene!
cruella deville’s mother being killed by dalmatians is the funniest possible origin story. like what if batman had said “i am going to wear robbers”
— soul nate (@MNateShyamalan) June 1, 2021
Collin Willis: Unfortunately I made the mistake of browsing Twitter during the three days between the movie’s release and when I saw it so there was no shock factor for me, and I don’t feel it gave me the intended effect. It’s cartoonish, but it makes sense within the context of the story. At the very least it’s something to talk about, which you can’t say for most of the Live-Action Remake-verse.
Blake Ison: The scene when Catherine got jumped by the dalmatians actually surprised me quite a bit. I got to see the film before the memes started, so I wasn’t really expecting anything like that to happen.
Anthony Labson: I thought it might have been too dark for a Disney film based on a children’s cartoon classic, but the dalmatians being hostile and killing Catherine does explain Cruella’s infatuation with them. I think they were a necessary element like having young Bruce Wayne in Joker. They’re just so interlinked it doesn’t make sense to have one without the other. Although at first, I wasn’t sure if they were trying to flip the coin and show that they’re bad from Cruella’s point of view or not. It probably could’ve been done differently to fuel Cruella’s thirst for revenge.
Brennan Dubé: The scene looked weird in those OUT OF CONTEXT TWITTER CLIPS… In the movie it was fine, maybe a little clunky, but it didn’t take me out of the movie at all.
Nick Kush: I got MAJOR Show Dogs vibes from the bad CGI, so let’s just say I didn’t find this effective. Look, I get it, you got to have dalmatians in a movie about Cruella de Vil, but choosing THIS as her tragic backstory is self-parodic. At least the film gets better after the prologue.
Who gave the better performance: Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, or Paul Walter Hauser?
Jack Edgar: Emma Stone is the moment and the reason that this film ultimately works — she’s fantastic and does exactly what she needs to carry the emotional weight of the film. But Emma Thompson? She FEASTED. From the moment she carelessly tossed her trash out of the moving car to the moment she pushed Cruella off the cliff and every deliciously wicked moment in between, she was the perfect campy villain that a movie like this needed to be fun.
Collin Willis: Paul Walter Hauser always gives the best performance, no matter the context. But between the two Emmas, I’m going to go with Stone. She hams it up when necessary and winds back in when it’s time for the more dramatic bits.
Blake Ison: While Emma Thompson was great on-screen and Paul Walter Hauser was an absolute scene-stealer, Emma Stone was easily the best performance in the film. She revels in this role and it’s clear that she is having an absolute BLAST.
Anthony Labson: Emma Stone blew everyone out of the water with her performance. I liked how she can move the audience to like her one minute, and have everyone on edge the next. With her involved, I’m actually looking forward to the sequel.
Brennan Dubé: Emma Stone had the most to do here and I’d probably give the crown to her, but both Emmas played off each other so darn well. The whole cast does their jobs well, but it’s certainly those two who elevate this movie.
Nick Kush: Paul Walter Hauser is really funny in just about every scene. He’s always game for whatever, and I truly admire that in an actor. But you can’t pick him when the Emmas are in contention. They’re both so terrific that they make a habit of smoothing out Cruella‘s rougher edges. I’d love to see them back together in a different movie sometime soon! If I had to choose, I’d probably go with Stone.
Good soundtrack, bad soundtrack, or somewhere in the middle?
Jack Edgar: Good soundtrack, but a bit like shoving your head underneath a Slurpee machine. Too much of a good thing and you’re left numb to the payoff.
Collin Willis: Middle. A lot of these songs have been used in movies lately, so while I enjoy them, the soundtrack lacked the edge of originality. However, Cruella does have a better use of “Smile” than Joker did, so brownie points to Gillespie.
Blake Ison: Along with Stone, the soundtrack to Cruella gives the film an infectious heartbeat that just adds to one’s overall enjoyment. With plenty of great, well-known tunes, the film also throws in a couple of smaller bangers.
Anthony Labson: I thought the soundtrack was okay. The main theme got my theater going, but most of it was in one ear and out the other.
Brennan Dubé: TOO MUCH SOUNDTRACK… But yes, it was good.
Nick Kush: The soundtrack is easily my least favorite part of the movie. That doesn’t mean these songs are bad, but for the most part, they’re intensely overused songs that are dropped in the most obvious contexts possible. Give Nicholas Britell the runway to show off his beautiful score instead!
Jack Edgar: MOTH DRESS. The best part of the film was that fashion and heist worked together so that each garment felt weaponized and relevant not just to the aesthetic but to the plot of the film. And the costume that best embodied that idea was the signature piece in the Baroness’s collection — a dress so stunning she was blind to the deception lying beneath. I gasped.
Blake Ison: My favorite costume of the film has got to be the dalmatian-style coat from the “I Wanna Be Your Dog” scene. While the “Future” look is a serve in and of itself, and a close second, the dalmatian look was just amazing in combination with the hair and makeup and the visuals of the scene.
Anthony Labson: My favorite was the garbage truck dress because of the creativity of coming out of a dirty garbage truck and looking beautiful. All the other dresses she wore were beautiful too, but the way that dress was presented and seeing her drive away with it flying in the air was pretty great. I enjoyed the irony of that situation.
Brennan Dubé: It HAD to be that garbage truck dress. That thing was awesome. The costumes throughout this film were absolutely fantastic, though.
Nick Kush: The actual logic of this dress makes no sense but I love it anyway.
What are your thoughts on the twist that The Baroness is actually Cruella’s mother?
Jack Edgar: It works for me. It explains the genius and the hint of madness, and gives Cruella that extra push toward something darker. Knowing that Cruella is going to ponder for years to come about the adopted mother she lost at the hands of the real mother that never wanted her helps us bridge the gap between the end of Cruella and the start of 101 Dalmations. It’s also fun and soapy — it makes this movie feel like it had a real story it wanted to tell, not just a point-A-to-point-B classic live-action Disney film.
Collin Willis: This twist gives the story the edge it needs for the conflict to feel reasonable, but it comes as an answer to a question we never asked. There’s no mystery to it, it’s just the fact that information has been withheld.
Blake Ison: The twist of the film genuinely caught me off guard and I thought it was quite effective. For the majority of the film, I was expecting Mark Strong to be revealed as Cruella’s father, so when the actual revelation occurred, I was shocked.
Anthony Labson: I wasn’t a fan of the Star Wars twist, but it does explain a lot. I just feel that whole “He’s your father” or in this case, “She’s your mother” has been done to death. It also felt like it’s a cop-out because it was the only way those involved could figure out how to justify why Cruella was so talented. It felt unnecessary.
Brennan Dubé: It was fitting. It made for a fun little dynamic (does this mean we are getting a Baroness origin story movie???).
Nick Kush: I was surprised, not because it’s an impressive reveal, but rather because it was so obvious I assumed they would stay away from it altogether to avoid the cliché.
Do you ultimately feel sympathy for Cruella? Or not at all?
Jack Edgar: Of course! The film doesn’t give us a reason to not have sympathy for Cruella (which ultimately is a major flaw in an otherwise fun romp). She never pushes beyond redeemable, and everything she does bad is done against someone who we know to be far, far worse. She’s the perfect criminal protagonist, like the lead in any good heist film. We can infer that her descent continues beyond this film but we don’t see it. That’s why I reject the idea that this is Joker-esque. It’s not the story of a final snap, it’s just 140 minutes of wicked heisting with a character we love.
Collin Willis: Yes. Despite her deviousness, I feel sorry for watching her become the person she hated.
Blake Ison: In terms of feeling sympathy for the de Vil, I don’t really think that I’m decided. On one hand, she does get a tragic backstory in this film, but on the other hand, she pushes things to the extreme and her actions are a little crazy. In the context of this film, though, I don’t think she’s pushed that ‘crazy’ too far, but she’s definitely shown to be on her way to madness.
Anthony Labson: It’s hard to have sympathy for her in the long run because of what she’ll try to do in the future, but you develop some in the film. Going back to Joker, you instantly know that this is going to be an evil person one day. You’re happy in this film in the sense that she defeated the greater evil, but she’s on the path to becoming just as bad.
Brennan Dubé: Sure, I feel sympathy for her, she was raised by the streets! But lucky for her, she had Paul Walter Hauser and Joel Fry by her side every step of the way (mostly!). In all honesty, maybe her transformation was a little abrupt, and considering the runtime, it didn’t need to be…
Nick Kush: Not really. I still don’t understand why I should feel anything for Cruella. She goes on to mercilessly kill dogs. You can’t look at this character in a vacuum knowing what she becomes later. Even if we have fifteen sequels down the road that fill in the gaps, I don’t know what this movie accomplished for the character. I had some fun watching Cruella, but I’m still struggling to figure out its purpose.
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