101 Dalmatians (1996) Movie Review

By: Alex Phuong (Two Beers) –

A recent trend for the Disney Studio is producing live-action remakes of beloved animated classics within the Disney canon. Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (2010) was so spectacular that it won two Academy Awards and grossed more than one billion dollars at the box office. That trend proves to be very profitable for Disney, especially since the 2017 remake of Beauty and the Beast also broke the one billion dollar mark. Some people might not know that one of the first Disney live-action remakes was actually released in 1996. That was because Disney brought the animated classic 101 Dalmatians to life in a film that proved that Disney magic might actually be real (at least when it comes to film-making as an art form). The final film is a very interesting take on one of the most iconic Disney films ever made.

A Toast

Considering that this film even exists is already an achievement within itself! After all, it can be very challenging to train numerous dogs to work alongside human actors in a film that celebrates the relationships between people and their pets. Glenn Close also does a phenomenal job as Cruella De Vil, and her performance even earned her a Golden Globe nomination. The film overall is a unique interpretation of the Disney animated classic because of the bold choice of not exactly copying the original film scene by scene. That shift in terms of the plot in this remake makes the film almost feel like a modernization of the original film rather than just a simple remake. That stylistic choice ultimately makes the film its own distinct entity that still honors the legacy of Walt Disney, especially since 101 Dalmatians (1961) was one of the last films that he personally produced.

Beer Two

Even with all of the Disney magic utilized to bring Dodie Smith’s classic story to life in this contemporary classic, such changes to the original source material have actually prompted some critics and audiences to criticize this remake. Glenn Close’s portrayal of the devilish Cruella De Vil has also received backlash because her character smokes in this film, which is not really that appealing to parents who encourage their children to resist cigarettes, drugs, violence, and alcohol (especially since the D.A.R.E. program has been used in educational settings to counteract such negative behavior). Some people also simply do not like the fact that there are some potentially dangerous situations in this film that young children might imitate, which basically means that this film is not really that “family friendly” even though it is supposed to be a Disney film that would otherwise appeal to general audiences.

Verdict

As of 2018, the trend of live-action remakes of Disney classics is obviously very lucrative for Disney. People are also excited for upcoming remakes of films like Aladdin (1992) and The Little Mermaid (1989). Given the popularity of this trend, it is clear that Disney is essentially creating family films for a new generation of moviegoers, especially if the parents themselves grew up during the famed “Disney Renaissance” of the 1990s. 101 Dalmatians (1996) might not be as grand as remakes like Beauty and the Beast (2017), but at least it was still one of the first Disney films to introduce millennials to the enduring legacy of Walt Disney himself.

101 Dalmatians (1996) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: every time Cruella De Vil wears anything fashionable

Take a Drink: for every reference to the original film

Double on Those Drinks: for every modernization/departure from the animated classic

And Have Some Shots: every time the colors black and white appear together to highlight the fact that dalmatians naturally have those colors

About Alex Phuong

Alex Andy Phuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University-Los Angeles in 2015. His love affair with cinema began after discovering Turner Classic Movies in the summer of 2004. His favorite film director is Woody Allen, and his favorite movie star is Kate Winslet.

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