Disney certainly spent a lot of money on the production of this live version of 101 Dalmations, etc. Cruella boasts fabulous production values (Fiona Crombie, production design). And the costumes by Jenny Beaven will knock your eyes out.
“GORGEOUS VISUALS BUT NO FUN “
She won Oscars® for Room with a View and Mad Max: Fury Road and should be considered in the next Academy Award® nominations this coming year. No complaints about the visuals.
Emma Stone plays Estella, an aspiring fashionista who wants to earn her fame and fortune as has Baroness von Hellman, played by a hilarious, but imperious, Emma Thompson (who has a roomful of Oscars ® and BAFTA Awards). Although Ms. Stone also has a Best Actress Oscar® for the La La Land musical.
Director Craig Gillespie, The only film of his I have ever heard of is I, Tonya, about the ice skater. He has fashioned a prologue to Cruella’s story by looking into the young girl’s plight after losing her mother. It is overly long and practically a feature of its own. It needs to be cut by half, at least, and it will still be too much.
Estella makes it to London and wangles a job with the Baroness, the greatest designer of all time. She also drags along her two friends, who seem to come out of Central Casting’s idea of what scalawags from the worst areas of the city look and act like who are pretending to be funny. They are not. Played by Paul Walter Hauser (Horace) and Joel Fry (Jasper), they try their best but end up looking like high school actors failing miserably to be funny. Somehow Estella doesn’t mind that they are thieves and have sticky fingers for everything that isn’t bolted to the floor. They are perfect for her diabolical scheme to get ahead in the fashion world.
Also thrown into this hash of characters is shopkeeper Artie. He is played as a stereotypical swishy gay man who has design aspirations. He is played well by actor John McCrea. But this character is a throwback to the Dark Ages when gay men were all supposed to be “artistic” and wear gold eyeshadow and sprayed-on pants. Ridiculous.
Enter Emma Thompson playing high camp. She’s several stories over the top, but it works as she pulls back her intensity when appropriate. She has been given several zingers of laugh lines and delivers them with crispness. Sorry Miss Stone, but Miss Thompson is the best thing in the picture. She steals all the scenes, including the ones the both of you are boxing each other to win.
Estelle turns herself into the mean and wicked Cruella De Vil in a mad scheme to take over the fashion business and put the Baroness out to pasture. The problem with her characterization is that there is no humor in it. It is not high camp or funny. And she is not at all a likeable character to whom the audience can relate. With her thieving friends in the forefront, and her miserable behavior toward everyone who gets in her way, she is a horrible example to children. This film is definitely not recommended for children.
“There is one big thing missing from this movie–FUN”
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