I often talk about bias and my attempts to avoid it completely, by avoiding the source material, or you know, letting you know if I have a bias. Like my hatred towards Luc Besson.
With Cruella, ever since it was announced it met me with confusion. But why? Why would anyone want to make a story about the origins of Cruella? The dog killer? I understand they did this same bullshit with Maleficent, someone in the original cartoon who was said to be the biggest evil thing ever, but in Sleeping Beauty, she didn’t do that many bad things. She never attempted to kill puppies. (And, author’s opinion of course, Maleficent was a bad movie, and the sequel was worse, so not worth going down that path too many times).
But in 101 Dalmatians, we can see why she is the bad guy. She wanted to kill dalmatians to make fashion. How the fuck are you gonna redeem that? The only way that could be redeemed would be if you decide to just ignore it…or just say it was a misunderstand and a lie. Neither feel like really strong arguments to run with because there wasn’t really any grey area in 101 Dalmatians for us to see a misunderstanding.
Based on this hair in the photo, we could have had 101 Cliffords.
Just as a heads up, this shouldn’t be considered a spoiler, as it happens very early on, but this next paragraph has someone people might want to see happen and not know why.
Because this is an origin story, we are going to start with Cruella’s birth, except her name is Estella and she has that black/white hair out of the womb for some reason. Growing up, she was interested in fashion, and getting revenge on bullies. She got into trouble, all of that. Her mom (Emily Beecham) tried to help her out and encourage her dreams, but they were poor. Then one day, at a fancy party which they weren’t invited too, Estella snuck in to find her mom and the host. Some dalmations were chasing her, and sure enough, they actually ended up pushing her mom off a cliff and she died. Oh boy. See. There you have it. There is an angle. Instead of becoming Dalmatian Lady, she set off to kill them all right? Wrong.
Now Estella is an orphan, but she meets two other orphan pick pockets and they end up living together to run the streets. Now years later, Estella (Emma Stone), Jasper (Joel Fry), and Horace (Paul Walter Hauser), do a lot of criming. They steal, they plan crime, they dress up in outfits, and they get by. What fun, what fun. But Estella wants something more. Jasper sees that, and lies on a resume for her to get her an in job at a fashion store!
And well, a lot more happens. But Estella is going to have a rise to power eventually, change her name, and have reasons to take down the head fashionista (Emma Thompson) in London, with a few balls, robberies, and shenanigans along the way.
“There’s no way that could be the same woman with the red hair. There is different hair!”
I really wanted to get it out of my head, but the nagging feeling remained throughout. This lady wants to kill dogs eventually. They didn’t try to paint Cruella as the nicest woman around. She obviously still is a criminal, who steals, vandalizes, and is some punkrock incarnation of fashion in London in the 1970’s. Will they get to the dalmatian part at all? Because Maleficent did deal with Aurora growing up and the curse. The answer is no. This film ends before 101 Dalmatians begins, but it introduces us to those characters, which will at least mean in the future, when they inevitably make a sequel, maybe that one will be the film that will explain why Cruella isn’t all that bad and is misunderstood.
But for this film, it doesn’t get there. There is a reference to killing dogs for their fur, but it doesn’t happen in this movie, and again, it all takes place before the one we know about her. This is a bit of a cop out. I would assume most people are going into this movie to see how they can see how trying to kill puppies is redeemable, but we never get that far into the story, and we just get some strange fashion based Oliver Twist story of revenge.
This tale has twists, music, shenanigans, and more, but I continually wanted it to get to the point, and frankly, I feel like it never reached it. Now, it is not like the movie makers said they would explain why Cruella wants to kill puppies for fashion, just her background, so we got a background, and now I have nothing to do with this information. Again, there will likely be a sequel, and the sequel will be the story I am most curious about given the reference information we were all given over the last 50 years of living in a world with 101 Dalmatians.
The film itself is pretty standard. The look and feel is exactly what I would expect based on recent Disney productions. I put this film down as a drama, but I guess it is labeled as a comedy. Honestly, it is all over the place in terms of tone and plot. It was hard figuring out exactly what I was meant to write about in that section. Cruella I am sure will have an audience somewhere, and although not inherently bad, it is still very messy.
And you know. How they gonna try and redeem a would-be puppy killer?