One hundred and One Dalmatians was never one of the Disney movies that I was eager to see. I did see the remake with Glenn Close, and I have fond memories of it (I wouldn’t watch it again though, fearing that these memories will disappear). In fact, I was kind of dreading watching it for this project. It turns out that my fears were unfounded, as it is a lovely movie that I would love to rewatch many times, but it’s not that great (I see a pattern forming here).
The first thing that I feel I should mention is the animation. According to Wikipedia, this is the first Disney movie where they used a machine that just scanned all the drawings the animators did, and they didn’t have to go back and make corrections to the drawings, therefore preserving the animator’s, shall we say, “vision.” But along with that, we are able to see the flaws more (and it is more apparent in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, but more on that later). With that said, I loved it. The character design is radically different from any other Disney movies, and it fits the setting and story perfectly. I wouldn’t be surprised if this one was one of Sylvain Chomet’s biggest influences.
In terms of story, it is a nice take on parent-children relationships, and it has a clever take on pet-master relationships as well. The cast does a fine job of bringing the characters to life, and for the first time, I didn’t feel like any character was superfluous. But of course, the best thing about it is Cruella DeVil. She is easily one of my favorite Disney villains. I love it when villains have shallow motifs, and nothing gets shallower than being driven by the love of fur coats. And her song is also easily the best villain song of any Disney movie that I’ve seen.
101 Dalmatians is a nice, entertaining movie with lots of heart, but at this point, Disney seems to be in a slippery slope. Still, it’s in the top 10 of the first 17 Disneys.