Rating (2.5 out of 5)
Summary: A friend captured the essence of “Cruella.” It’s a good story ruined by squeezing the script into the Disney box. Concentrate on an abandoned daughter’s revenge rather than introducing every single character from the animated movie. There are too many times when we have been forced back to the Disney center that the movie loses momentum and is simply dull.
The performances are good all around. Estella/Cruella (Emma Stone) and Emma Thompson are two of my favorites. Emma’s speech in front of the demonstrate she still has “it.” Mark Strong delivers his usual strong and steadfast good guy bit. But even despite their strong performances, the script was fighting with itself.
For example, the story has a good pace, as Estella is left alone and finds friends with Jasper and Horace. Watching them as they commit crimes was entertaining. However, Jasper and Estella develop a relationship that borders on the romantic. Had it not been Jasper but Jock or a Tony, this would have been fine. However, with Jasper, it was odd. Forcing the characters into the 101 Dalmatian box made it felt weird and strained.
Throughout the movie, there are fun scenes, especially as Estella/Cruella is trying to upstage her mother with her fashion photobombs. But again, we force the 101 references as Horace discusses owners looking like their dogs. It was necessary nor needed, but they through it in there. Was it to remind us this was part of the 101 Dalmatian series?
Let the story out of the box, and you would have had a shorter, more inspired film. Force it in the box; you have a 2 1/4 hour movie that the kids have a 50/50 chance of watching the entire way.
Plot: Estella/Cruella is orphaned when her mom is pushed over a cliff by dalmatians. She later breaks into fashion, only to discover she was given up as a baby, and her mom, her cruel boss, killed her guardian all those years ago on the cliff.