Lock up your doors and board up the windows. Draw the curtains and hide in the attic. Shiver in the dark in mortal fear, for the black and white bitch is back. Cruella De Vil - the furster with the mostest has returned and she's simply delighted - happy even.Happy?
Yes, happy. Cruella, or Ella, as she now likes being called has had some revolutionary new Clockwork-Orange-style shock aversion therapy and now she thinks puppies are just adorable. She is released from prison with a smile on her dial and she even loves her new pet puppy that's given to her. Her assigned parole officer Chloe (Evans) - would you believe it - is a Dalmatian owner. In fact her dog is Dipstick who fans might remember from the first film.
Cruella is released from jail on the condition that if she gets into some puppy action again all her fortune will go to the dog shelters in the Westminster Borough. That suits Kevin (Gruffudd) because his shelter is the only one in the area.
But wait! It seems that the therapy has a major flaw. Could it lead to Cruella turning back to her old ways? Let's hope so.
Disney once again rolls out characters inspired by the Dodie Smith novel. As was realised from the first film, Cruella De Vil is the best thing it has going for it. Played with sadistic relish by Glenn Close, Cruella is just so damn evil that you can?t help loving her. Man, I like her so much she makes me want to get my own puppy coat.
101 seemed to show a lack of ideas with it spending too much time with sequences of the dogs being clever and cute. 102 instead keeps the animal gimmicks to a minimum and concentrates on Cruella instead.
The Cruella emphasis causes the film to be more focused on nastiness, but kids will like that 'cause kids are into cruelty. You might think it's kind of ironic that Disney's strength is in being evil. Me, I think it makes perfect sense.
While everything that Cruella does is way cool, everybody else is a bit of a bore.
There?s the standard edition Disney romance that is going exactly where you expect it to go. 101 had the big plus of the rather alluring Joely Richardson as the female love interest and the rather big negative of Jeff Daniels as the male lead. 102 instead gives us a couple of leads that are as bland as dried dog food.
Another couple of bores are the two major additions to the film. Waddlesworth, the talking parrot (Idle) and the fur coat designer Le Pelt (Depardieu) - Neither quite work.
Waddlesworth gets over the little problem of none of the dogs talking by being a talking parrot who thinks he's a dog. He tries to be funny, but instead gets a little contrived. This is the second time a Monty Python veteran has voiced a parrot.
What is it about Monty Python and parrots? Will they never live down the dead parrot sketch?
Depardieu as Le Pelt is just this big bungling fool. Which should be expected as that is all he seems to do in his English speaking films.
As all this mediocrity enshrouds the film, the eventual effect is that it makes Cruella look even better. Her Anthony Powell-designed costumes - especially her stunning red ball gown - are spectacular. Close's performance is easily the best thing, maybe even the saving grace for this film.This film will satisfy the kids, but who cares what the little brats want, will you like it? You will if you get into the Cruella thing. 102 Dalmatians is the usual Disney fair with the added bonus of an evil central character. If Cruella wins you over you will be happy with this film.