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101 Dalmatians

Reviewed by: Don Bates

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
The Young at Heart
Comedy Live-action Drama
USA Release:
November 27, 1996 (wide)

Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures click photos to ENLARGE

DALMANIA! One of the most enjoyable Disney classics is back, but this time as a full length live-action feature film. Fortunately, it retains the charm and simplicity that made the animated original so much fun.

The casting is excellent, and all the characters are surprisingly similar to the cartoon counterparts that we have loved and despised these many years. From Roger and Anita to the villainous Cruella herself, each is portrayed in an uncomplicated, child-friendly manner that is appropriate for most young children, yet still enjoyable for adults. Unlike the animated version, the animals do not speak (a slight disappointment to a few in our family). Roger and Anita are lovely and in love. Cruella (Glenn Close) is sooooooooo evil. The bad guys are bumbling buffoons and the puppies are cute cute cute!

Roger’s vocation was updated cleverly for the 90’s, and Cruella’s evil plans involve the loving couple, not just their puppies. But goodness triumphs over evil. Children are recognized as the blessing that they are, and the commited, loving family is stronger than the worldly dangers that confront it.

Cruella’s primary evil is a coveteousness that could lead her to harm puppies. The threat is never realistic or unnerving for the little ones, but it is quite an adequate evil to picture the conflict between a world that is dangerous and the family that will protect you.

Viewer Comments
I have three girls… I did see the film with my two older girls, and have borrowed it from a friend to watch again. I thought the movie was good. The fact that Cruella was SO OBVIOUSLY EVIL, showed the distiction between good and evil clearly. We could talk about how Evil one can become without Jesus in their heart. And there were a few good laughs in the movie. Horace and Jasper were men ol chaps too, but at the end they were more than happy to give up their life of crime and submit themselves to the consequences. (plus it was warmer in that patty wagon!!)…
Laura Mullaly, age 36
Our daughters (9, 10 and 13) enjoyed this movie, but after seeing it we recommended that our sister-in-law not take her 3 and 5 year old duaghters. Some parts are frightening to smaller children, especially the concept of killing and skinning the puppies.
Stephen Wood, age 36
Although I do not approve of Disney’s agenda on moral values, “101 Dalmations” was an excellent remake of the animated version. It was also nicely updated to the 1990's. But alas, they went one step too far in that regard by including (inferred premarital sex). Had it not been for that, this would have ranked as one of Disney’s best efforts at wholesome moviemaking.
Mike MacCrae, age 44
This is a GREAT movie!! I was a bit fearfull of it being TOO updated for the ’90s, but they did a great job. I think that Disney should be told when they are doing somthing RIGHT for a change, and people should see this little gem regardless of their opinions about Gay Marriage and boycotts (the social issues currently embroiling the studio). SEE IT!!!… It’s one of the few movies that you can take the whole family to (except MAYBE those under 4) and not worry about sex, language, mindless violence, etc…
Justin VanNingen, age 19
“101 Dalmations” is a big hit! Some of the parts in the movie were a bit unrealistic, like when Horace freezes solid after falling in the pond, but that scene makes little difference overall. I was disappointed when I found out that the animals don’t talk, but Disney did such a good job with them that I decided I really like the animals better WITHOUT voices.
Danielle Woods, age 12
People make fun of Chris Ouellette’s typing (below). Hey, the Internet goes beyond borders! Did anyone stop to think that Chris might be a French speaker, and was doing his best to type “for our understanding and edification?”
Dan Young, age 24
We were disappointed in reading the reviews of “101” that no one seemed concerned about the current (1996-97…) boycott of Disney… Due to our concern over the company’s social direction—we are not going to this film and recommend that others also refrain from attending and purchasing Disney products until the boycott has been lifted. Thanks!!
Steve and BJ, age 40
I appreciate the idea of a film/critical review format. I think it’s needed, BUT, I do think that supporting a film with someone such as Glenn Close is pretty risky!! Ms. Close has also played some very risce roles, i.e., Ms. Camelmeyer (a lesbian inductee to the armed services), and I think that should be pointed out. Viewers should be aware of her morally bankrupt views and that supporting this film supports her financially. I would much rather support others, like Dean Jones, who has really been good about limiting his acting roles to (those that are “family friendly” and Biblically commendable overall). Thanx.
Jason Dack
I have found, that in recent years, that Disney’s standard for “family films” has deteriorated greatly. It is very alarming to see how quick (some) people are to simply see the Disney name and assume it will be a virtuous, family film. The example that Chris O. pointed out (below) may be subtle, but he’s right in that it is just another illustration as to how little we demand from Disney. (As far as his spelling, people should really look past that, and instead, focus on his points, which we could learn from. It is unfortunate that people are so quick to insult, but not so quick to accept other people’s opinions. What a world we live in. God accepts that we aren’t perfect, and loves us anyway, and I personally am very happy about that. Maybe some of us should spend more time working on our weak points and less time pointing out those in others. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up”—1Thes 5:11. I believe that if we do this, it will set a far better example to our children than any correctly spelled word ever will.)
Sarah, age 33
I am one who thought the movie was not that great. The whole premise is morbid… kidnapping puppies to skin them and make a coat?!…
Kim G., age 31
I take issue with Christopher O.’s opinion of the movie and his use of the English (typed) language. At the age of 22 he should be more careful of the example he sets for other readers, mainly younger ones. The movie was a refreshing interpretation of the original. …There are a few points where the drama gets a little scary for the little ones but it passes quickly. Enjoy!
James, age 31
A truly funny and charming movie that not only amuses children but is also quite entertaining for the parents who bring them! Christopher O. might be better off practising spelling skills than over-analyzing a childrens film. …Sorry, couldn’t resist.
Lillian C., age 39
This film’s only good aspect is the casting. They do a wounderfull job. Other than that the screan play is bad. Anytime the film leavs the origonal script it is nothing more than stuped. Further more, though your kids will not pick this up (unless they are into day time soaps) it is sugested that Roger has pre-marital sex, by showing the two of them in a pashonet kiss, sinking into the couch, to then revele there paints (hanging by the fire place) caching on fire. This is comon daytime soap shorthand for “they are haveing sex but we cannot show it.” Also the end of the film is a bad rehash of “Home Alone.” This film has wounderful acting and cute puppies, but is not worth your time.
Christopher Ouellette, age 22
I just saw it and I was pleased at the way the movie remained true to the characters, and the acting of Glen Close was simply marvelous.The themes of good versus evil were very evident with good triumphing. I recommend it heartily.
Joey Holder, age 37
I thought the movie was great. It didn’t show that much resemblance to the original, but the graphics were excellent. …a movie for the whole family.
Annie Barnum, age 13
I thought that “101 Dalmations” was really good. I took my little 11 year-old brother to see it, and he loved it! As little kids, we both watched the cartoon version and enjoyed it. Now, we liked the (live-action version) even more! I especially thought Glenn Close (Cruella) did a wonderful job. I’d suggest for a good, clean, and cute movie, see 101 Dalmations!
Crystal, age 13
This movie is a marketing marvel! We already new the story line so, there isn’t much to say about that. Yes, Cruelela DeVil was as frightening “for real” as she was in the cartoon version. Some of the material concerning the skinning of puppies was a little heavy and could be scary for younger kids. Overall, this movie was ok. Personally, I prefer the cartoon version…
Penney Sorrells, age 24
If you saw the animated feature there are few surprises in this one. A lot of slapstick comedy for slapstick fans. The movie was mildly entertaining.
Curtis Hinton, age 32
I took my five year old son to see this movie and he was terrified. It should have been rated PG. Cruella’s evil character was too real. The redeeming qualities are the lack of the word “idiot” which was too prevalent in the animated version and the portrayal of “Pongo” and “Perdita” getting married.
Kellie Griffin, age 26
Negative101 Dalmatians is one of my daughter’s favorite books, so when the movie came to Netflix, we had a family movie night. I was troubled about how Roger and Anita came to be. They met in a park, and it could have (should have) been an example of the right circumstances to meet and chose a life partner. But, oh no, true to modern form, they met by getting into a conflict, which climaxed in Anita hitting Roger in the face with a heavy purpose. Like “children's” movies before it, such as “Beauty and the Beast” (Daddy, just because he held you hostage doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy) and Alladin (Daddy, you shouldn’t be so judgmental of a thief), impressionable young eyes watching it have their views shaped on what is or isn’t a good relationship. And even Disney fails miserably.

On a positive note, Cruella’s sins are well rebuked and good triumphs. I fail to see how the story was served by interjecting (yet another) ridiculous, backwards love story into the mix.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
Jay, age 39 (USA)