(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from the live-action version of 101 Dalmatians)
Doug (vo): Well, if you saw my original Disneycember review of 101 Dalmatians, you probably won't be that shocked that I think pretty much the same thing about the live-action one, which is funny, because in many respects, it is exactly like the original and yet completely different. The story is exactly the same. The characters are exactly the same. The setting is exactly the same. But there is, however, one major difference: the dogs don't talk. A lot of people I remember when this was coming out were really angry and shocked at that. "Oh, my God! How can the dogs not talk? They talked in the original! Holy smokes!" And what does it all amount to? Well, very much like the animated one, it's just a movie about watching puppies, and if you like to watch puppies, you'll like this film fine.
Doug (vo): The story centers around a male Dalmatian and his owner, played by Jeff Daniels, who has his eye on a female Dalmatian, who has a pretty attractive owner as well. Of course, both the dogs and the humans meet up and they decide to get together. Overtime, they get married, and eventually, the female dog gets pregnant, giving birth to 15 adorable puppies. But an evil villain named Cruella De Vil, played by Glenn Close, wants to buy the puppies so she can turn them into fur coats. When the owners tell her that they're not for sale, she hires two henchmen, one of them played by Hugh Laurie, to kidnap the puppies and add them to her collection. That's right. A collection, for she plans to make tons of fur coats out of tons of puppies, 99, to be exact. When the parents, as well as other animals, catch word, the race is on to see if they can save the puppies before they're turned into fashion statements.
Doug (vo): On the one hand, I say to myself, "This is a completely pointless movie to exist. Did this really demand to be brought to the live-action cinema?" But with that said, if you had to bring it to live-action cinema, I actually think it's pretty reasonably done. I really applaud the fact that they don't have them talk. Not only was the technology not up to it back then...I mean, they could move the lips, but they'd look kind of creepy...but the movie knows exactly what the people want: They just want to see cute dogs, and if they started talking, it would just be really weird and distracting. Thus, we have to rely on the charm of the human characters, which, for the most part, hold up pretty well. I mean, for such bit parts that have little to them, they actually got some really good actors to bring them to life. The romantic couple are good, the henchmen are good.
[Various scenes showing Glenn Close as Cruella De Vil are shown]
Doug (vo): And, yeah, let's talk about Glenn Close as Cruella De Vil. On the one hand, I should be really angry at this performance because, yeah, Cruella De Vil is an over-the-top character, but this is really over-the-top. Cruella was an angry, bitter woman. This is just a laughing lunatic. She's more like a 60s Batman villain than she is a Disney villain, and...God, doesn't that sound weird to say...she's making animated Disney villains look subtle! However, with that said, she just cracks me the fuck up. It's kind of like a female Tim Curry or Christopher Walken. There's just no doubt that she's doing whatever the hell she wants. I mean, look at her. She's totally off her rocker.
[A scene showing Cruella talking to Anita is shown]
Cruella De Vil: If we make this coat, it would be as if I were wearing your dog. [Starts laughing] Woof, woof! [Laughs manically]
Doug (vo; laughs): How can you not crack up at this? Maybe the way to look at it is not that she absolutely captured the original animated character, but she turned it into something 100% different and just ran all the way with it. Hell, ran to the fucking moon with it, she's so over-the-top.
[Another scene showing Cruella plotting her scheme is shown]
Cruella De Vil: [I have] my cozy puppy coat. [Starts laughing manically again, which soon escalates into just straight-up over-the-top cackling]
Doug (vo; laughs again): I just can't stop laughing at her, she's a fucking riot!
Doug (vo): For what it is, the film is really not that bad. It's 100% serviceable. I can't really see anyone going into this movie being incredibly disappointed. I mean, what do you think you're going to see? You're gonna see Glenn Close over-the-top and you're gonna see cute puppies. That's it. And as that setup goes, it's obvious they put a lot of effort into it. I think the only people that would really want to see them talk are the same people that go see Santa Paws. [A poster of The Search for Santa Paws is briefly shown] But I give this movie credit that it tries to be visually interesting, it tries to cast some good people, it tries to tell a lot of the story through silence, which can be very difficult to do. So I guess I appreciate it more than I actually like it. I guess I like it a little better than the animated version, it's just, I didn't really even get into the animated version that much. I think it's very simple. If you really like dogs, especially Dalmatians, you'll really like this. And, yeah, if you just want to see an actress go batshit insane, it's actually kind of fun to watch for that, too. You looking for a fun little family film with cute little animals that's not gonna offend anybody? This definitely hits the spot.
[The film's final scene, showing the humans and the Dalmatians living in a new house, is shown]