Cruella (2021)

cruella poster 2021 movie emma stone
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Good looking and good cast

A little long

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Cruella

Studio:  Walt Disney Pictures/Marc Platt Productions/Gunn Films

Genre(s):  Comedy/Drama

Release Date(s):  May 18, 2021 (Premiere)/May 28, 2021 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

cruella emma stone garbage truck costume

Can Cruella make treasure out of trash?

Estella aka Cruella (Emma Stone) grew up different and after witnessing the shocking death of her mother at the hands of the elite fashion designer the Baroness (Emma Thompson), Cruella finds herself living on the streets with street robbers Jasper (Joel Fry) and Horace (Paul Walter Hauser).  With a sense of fashion and a goal of revenge, Cruella sets off on a quest of revenge…and the Baroness is in her targets.

Directed by Craig Gillespie, Cruella is a Walt Disney comedy-drama.  The film is based on the character from the Walt Disney animated feature One-Hundred and One Dalmatians from 1961 which adapted the 1956 children’s novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith.  The film received positive reviews and won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design with a nomination for Best Hair and Make-Up.

I heard a lot of buzz about Cruella when it was released, but never got a chance to watch it (despite the COVID lockdown).  Finally getting to watch Cruella, the movie has a lot of fun and a lot of great performances.

cruella emma thompson baroness kills mother

Gotta have a villain!

Cruella De Vil despite almost being overdone is a perfect character for an origin story.  The animated Cruella is a mystery.  Where does her money come from?  Why does she know thugs like Horace and Jasper?  Why does she maintain a friendship with Anita despite being so different?  The screenwriters combine some basic questions like this with a self-aware script that has things like Dalmatians murdering Cruella’s mother, and the “origins” of Roger’s hatred of Cruella…combined with a nice plot of revenge and self-discovery.  While a bit long, it is still fun.

The performances are top-notch and the actors give their all despite what might be considered a “goofy” Disney movie.  Emma Stone has that vulnerability but an evil streak that make the devilish Cruella likable in spite of everything.  Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser take the rather one dimensional characters of Horace and Jasper and gives them dimension…and Emma Thompson is of course chilly and icy and deliciously evil Baroness (which intentionally draws parallels to Cruella’s portrayal over the decades since the release of the animated film).  Mark Strong switches roles to the nice guy and John McCrea plays Disney’s first openly gay live action character.  Kirby Howell-Baptiste and Kayvan Novak play the live action versions of Anita Darling and Roger Dearly.

cruella jasper horace joel fry paul walter hauser

Jasper and Horace Forever!

With movies dealing with fashion, they have high bars to clear.  Cruella manages to do it with style in over-the-top looks.  The movie is set in the 1960s, and it has the benefit of combining modern style with retro styles to give Cruella a look that is distinctive (though fortunately not as distinctive and the chain smoking, fur wearing skin-and-bones look from the original film).

Cruella is a fun little film that is slightly too long, but still a fun ride.  A great cast and a great look are combined into a stylish film.  The movie is a bit more adult than some earlier Disney live action films, but it also feels like it needs to be to keep the edge the movie has.  With the creativity abounding, I could see a second Cruella…though the fact that there was already a live action 101 Dalmatians does make that rather redundant and I think Cruella should stand on its own.

Related Links:

The 94th Academy Award Nominations

One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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