Thursday, January 1, 2015

101 DALMATIANS (1996)

(November 1996, U.S.)

Oops! I really did it this time and I have no one but myself to blame for it, so please bear with me! I now revert back to the last thing I said when I posted my blog for the original 1961 animated Walt Disney classic ONE HUNDRED AND ONE DALMATIANS and that's this - is it possible I have more of a fondness for the the 1996 live action film than I'm willing to confess to? Perhaps I'll need to watch it again and get back to you. Well, that's just what happened to me and that's just what I did and it turns out that despite not owning the film on DVD at this time, I'm ready willing and able to discuss and post this big budget Hollywood holiday remake that took the holiday season of 1996 by storm and me along with it.

Refer to my previous post on the animated film to also know that one of my main reasons for a genuine fondness for this live action version is the experience I had in seeing it at one of the most famous movie palaces in Hollywood, California known as the El Capitan (see original post for a beautiful photographic sample) back when it was first released. But as much as my strong memory for that geographical setting is in place here, I can't deny that Glenn Close chosen as Cruella De Vil was absolute genius! Really, with a slight possible exception of Meryl Streep, I can't imagine anyone in this entire world who would have been built for the role better than Close! She was made for the evil of De Vil and it's very clear when watching the film that she was having the time of her life playing the part. Unlike the disgusting, long cheek-boned creature of the animated film, Cruella has some degree of beauty, grace, charm and perhaps even a touch of sexiness for this woman (remember, this is still Glenn Close who was pretty hot in FATAL ATTRACTION!). Her wide eyes and bright teeth speak of evil doings to poor animals all over London which she's determined to capture and slaughter for the purposes of her love of fur. Jeff Daniels, Joely Richardson and Joan Plowright as Roger, Anita and Nanny play their parts just fine and they're more than suitable for their respective roles (they even bare good resemblance to the original animated characters), but again it's Close who totally carries the film.

But wait - is that really true?? Should credit not go to where it's really do? Let's face it - we're talking PUPPIES, lots and lots of puppies and even the most manliest of men can't resist that tremendous level of cuteness! Yes, real life dalmatians may be wild and totally rambunctious, but they're just too irresistible to ignore, particularly when they're running around in masses. Hell, even when they're computer generated to do stunts that no real puppy could likely do, they're still too cute for words.

(Yes, I'm obviously either part gay, part girl or part both because I clearly can't resist cute puppy movies when I'm not watching something a lot more hardcore!)

Even more than the animated film, this update uses the concept and possibilities of animal instinct and communication to a much greater degree. Despite being a fun family film, one can't help but wonder what the animals of the world (not counting whales and dolphins) can truly say to each other when they really put their efforts into it. For this film, it would seem that all animals of England come together to try and rescue the stolen puppies by the hands of Horace and Jasper (played by Hugh Laurie and Mark Williams). And speaking of those two imbeciles, the slapstick comedy that they entertain us with as the animals are getting the best of them will remind you very much of Harry and Marv in the first two HOME ALONE films as they endure a whole lot of pain and never seem to truly get hurt (or freeze to death!).

Okay, so 101 DALMATIANS is a remake, a reboot, a re-whatever, call it what you like and generally goes against all that I believe in when making original films, but it's irresistible fun that I needed to remind myself of during the course of my writings. Now all I have to do is find a suitable DVD copy to own which will be more difficult than it sounds because I believe it's currently out of print. Don't worry, though - I'm pretty resilient when it comes to inevitably finding what I want. That's why they invented eBay for a guy like me!

Favorite line or dialogue:

Cruella De Vil: "Alonzo. The drawing. (screaming) Take the drawing from Anita, and hand it to me!! Is that difficult!? Thank you. Now go and stand somewhere until I need you."

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