Pin It

Puppy love 

& & by Ed Symkus & & & &

It's been four years since the folks at Disney tore up the box office with their first live-action remake of one of their own animated features. And while the second 101 Dalmatians didn't quite have the charm of the cartoon, it was certainly entertaining and energetic and, as far as sequels go in the movie business, sure looked to be the perfect film to segue into a second.

Naturally, the film will work better for anyone who saw the first one, because this time out, everything focuses on Cruella De Vil (Glenn Close, once again putting the art in the art of overacting), who was arrested for dognapping at the end of 101. Now, three years later (in film time), after some behavior therapy from a Dr. Pavlov (pretty lame joke), she's deemed cured and let back out into the streets of London, with some provisos: She must not go near any fur, she must do 500 hours of community service, she must never dognap again; if she does, her fortune will go to a rundown dog shelter.

Yet, just knowing that she's the film's bad guy and that she once had horrific plans for making a coat out of Dalmatian puppies will suffice to set anyone up for this story. Then again, it's highly doubtful that anyone champing at the bit to see this hasn't seen its predecessor anyway.

Cruella's release is the film's setup. Its plot, though, centers on two other people. There's Chloe (the perky Alice Evans), who is Cruella's probation officer as well as owner of Pongo and Perdy's son Dipstick, who is the mate of Dottie, and their offspring, Domino, Little Dipper, and the spotless Oddball (don't try to keep score; just know that they're dogs.). And there's Kevin (Ioan Gruffudd), a fellow who's eking by with a rundown shelter for stray dogs, the same shelter that Cruella is on her way to "save."

But, this being a Disney film, all things can't be going right; there's just got to be some evil involved, in order to have a happy ending, in order to have something for good to triumph over. Of course, it's Cruella (isn't it always a woman in Disney films?), whose therapy reverses itself when she hears the chimes of Big Ben. Suddenly she's back on track to get that coat of her dreams, and now she has a cohort, the furrier Jean Pierre Le Pelt (Gerard Depardieu, in one of his more embarrassing roles; if his entrance, "dressed" in leopard skin isn't enough, he's later dumped headfirst into a toilet).

All of this is fine for the kiddies in the audience, from the cute puppies running around to the talking parrot -- make that the conversing parrot, and it's strange that no one in the film thinks it odd that they're speaking with this bird (voiced nicely by Eric Idle). The film also features the return of Cruella's hapless valet, Alonso (Tim McInnerny). The problem is that the slapstick that's thrown at him, mostly by the horrid Cruella and sometimes by the frisky dogs, is rather mean-spirited. He doesn't just take some bumps -- he's assaulted, and he's hurt. It's okay for him to slip and fall down, but it's less than okay for his hands to then be run over by a car. This business goes way beyond being funny and ends up in areas of -- just like the villainess' name -- cruelty.

But a wise word of warning in advance from parents will probably prevent any trauma that might occur among the tots watching, and for the most part the film spins along with those young viewers in mind. And just like in 101 Dalmatians, it's dogs, not people who save things in the end. Actually, it's a Rube Goldberg-like machine scene that saves things in a too-drawn-out last act.

And the highlight of the film is something that's going to please adult and kid viewers equally, for very different reasons. After -- no surprise -- Chloe and Kevin meet, they go out for dinner at an Italian restaurant and both order spaghetti and meatballs. Back at her place, a bunch of dogs have gotten together to watch a video of Lady and the Tramp. Anyone who's seen that film will remember the spaghetti scene, which is shown here as a similar one is being played out between the two people in the restaurant. Kids will think it's funny, adults will find it touching. And it is both.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Rich Man, Poor Men
  • Rich Man, Poor Men

    Can the wealthiest U.S. president ever help the poorest U.S. citizens?
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • La Resistance
  • La Resistance

    Michael Moore, Congressional Democrats and local progressives: How they are resisting Donald Trump's agenda
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • Must-See TV?
  • Must-See TV?

    Alternatives to the inauguration (and how to make watching more fun if you have to)
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri
Women's March on Spokane

Women's March on Spokane @ Spokane Convention Center

Sat., Jan. 21, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Ed Symkus

  • Ode to <i>Joy</i>-less
  • Ode to Joy-less

    This reviewer really, really doesn't like Jennifer Lawrence
    • Dec 23, 2015
  • Winning Reboot
  • Winning Reboot

    Somehow, Arnold's return to the Terminator franchise makes for solid sci-fi
    • Jul 1, 2015
  • Dog of a Story
  • Dog of a Story

    Max wastes a promising idea on forgettable characters
    • Jun 24, 2015
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • One Free Shave

    Donald Trump might have merited a honeymoon with voters had he managed his transition better
    • Dec 29, 2016
  • The Landed and the White

    How Americans followed tradition when they voted for Trump
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment




green zone


Readers also liked…

  • Patrolling While Black
  • Patrolling While Black

    Gordon Grant's nearly 30 years as a Spokane cop have been affected by race, but that's not the whole story
    • Jul 8, 2015
  • Hopeless for Heroin
  • Hopeless for Heroin

    As heroin deaths continue to rise in Washington state, what can a parent do to save a child from the depths of addiction?
    • Jul 29, 2015

© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation