Movie Review: 101 Dalmatians
Quick Take: A must-have for pet lovers -- big and small.
Who hasn't wondered what goes on in the mind of a pet?
There's the dog that looks at you quizzically; the cat that sums you up smugly; and the horse that seems to eye you with a look that says, "Go ahead, just try to ride."
According to 101 Dalmatians, the 1961 animated film, everything we always wondered about our beloved animals is true; they really are smarter than we are. Humans may pay the rent, hold the lease and buy the kibble. But, faced with a challenge -- in this case, retrieving stolen puppies -- it takes a dog to do a detective's job. Two woofs, one yip and a woof, and in record time, the entire animal kingdom was alerted to the missing pooches, had them located, rescued, and returned to their rightful homes. Take that, Sherlock Holmes.
The last of the classics overseen by Walt Disney himself, Dalmatians is a charming burst of nostalgia, a hand-drawn masterpiece that will delight pint-sized newcomers, and return adults who grew up pre-Toy Story to their 2-D cartoon-loving childhoods. Set in a quiet section of London, Dalmatians follows Pongo and Perdita, two spotted adult canines who meet, fall in love (not coincidentally at the same time as their "pet" humans Roger and Anita), have a family of puppies, and then lose said puppies to the utterly devilish Cruella Deville. All Joan Crawford-meets-Leona Helmsley, Cruella's the rare animated bad guy who works her villainy sans hocus-pocus. Still, her plan -- kidnap and skin 99 puppies to feed her fur-coat habit -- makes the wicked queen's whole poison-apple plan seem quaint. But, amid the slapstick of Horace and Jasper (Cruella's hapless and goofy human co-conspirators) and the overwhelming cuteness of 99 wet-nosed, wagging-tailed puppies, one hardly pays her diabolical scheme much mind. "Happily Ever After" finds all 101 dogs safely home with Roger and Anita, two humans whose adoration for Dalmatians is so strong, they show nary a flinch when the newly-arrived crew plants their collective wet, soot-covered paws on the pristine, white sofas. Now, that's love.
While living with 101 actual pups may seem impractical -- the shedding, the barking, the industrial-sized pooper-scooper -- who could blame the kids if they finish the flick longing for at least one floppy-eared pup. Let's face it: those dogs are cute. Very cute. So cute, in fact, that the film's been known to spark an increase in Dalmatian adoptions each time it gets released. Moms and dads may find themselves running to the pet store as well.
Just remember who really controls the leash.
Kids Will Like:
The slapstick. Horace and Jasper are bumbling and goofy. When a particularly hapless Jasper mistakes Sgt. Tibbs (the cat) for a bottle of pop will have kids guffawing in the aisles. And when Cruella finally gets hers, there'll be cheers all around.
Parents Will Like:
The nostalgia factor, among other things. What parent didn't grow up on Dalmatian puppy love?
Though it's hard to object to 101 adorable pups, Cruella – with her hunger for puppie pelts -- may indeed give kids (and adults) the chills.
Yes, make it a member of the family. Kids will regard these dozens of pups like their very own pets.