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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 


Cruella deVil (Glenn Close) has been rehabilitated and buys a failing dog shelter managed by Kevin Shepherd (Ioan Gruffudd). Everyone is impressed except her probation officer Chloe Simon (Alice Evans), whose Dalmatians have just given birth to puppies. Chloe is sceptical, but is attracted to Kevin, who subsequently is arrested for stealing Dalmatian puppies. In the meantime Cruella forges a friendship with French fashion furrier Jean Pierre Le Pelt (Gérard Depardieu), and once again she becomes intent on acquiring a unique Dalmatian fur coat.

"As a child living in the French-speaking Belgian Congo, Dodie Smith's enchanting 101 Dalmatians was one of the few English books in my possession. And it was definitely a favourite; I was totally captivated by those sensitive dalmatians Pongo, Missus and Perdita and of course the fur-obsessed Cruella deVil, who lived in a house with red painted walls and whose meals (even the dessert) tasted of pepper. Twilight Barking was a concept that captured my imagination, and even today, when neighbourhood dogs yap, scrap and bark, I wonder what important doggie bulletins are being transmitted. No film could ever live up to the expectation, but I must admit the first film was highly enjoyable. As for the second, well, 102 provides 101 minutes of escapist fun for the whole family. Everything's predictably doggy and dotty, from the digga digga dog music soundtrack and you might be forgiven thinking you're seeing spots – at one stage even Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament are covered with dots! There are some very clever ideas, and the premise of Cruella (call me 'Ella') DeVil's rehabilitation is brilliant. Glenn Close again creates a wonderful larger than life villain-ess; as for her hair (not so simply styled in black and white) and wardrobe (the red and black full mink coat is sensational), there are no subtle moments here! And Gérard Depardieu – well, this is Depardieu resplendent in loud animal print - and as we have never seen him before. The puppies (poupies, as Gérard would say) are cute and yes, they play computers, watch videos like Lady and the Tramp, and operate the video recorder with much more confidence and efficiency than me. There's also an ego-centric macaw (who thinks he's a rottweiler) – a cute idea with a good pay off. 102 Dalmatians may not come close to the book, but you will fall in love with Oddball, the puppy who is longing for his spots, and jump on board for the deVil of a doggie ride. Slapstick, one liners and total parody is the style of humour, providing good old fashioned entertainment for the young at heart."
Louise Keller

"Like its running time of 101 minutes being a tad short of a matching 102, the film itself is a tad short of our expectations – and a tad overdone in heavy-handed Hollywood style, from the parrot-as-dog joke to the laboured storyline. It’s not the fault of Glenn Close, however, who returns as the cruelest Devil – as per her car numberplate - ever to handle a dog, spotted or not. Gerard Depardieu also works his French butt off to make his Le Pelt character breathe life, but as usual, the flaws are in the script and the direction – not the performances. The main problem is a lack of heart and warmth. Another is the mis-judged tone, and the focus being on the humans; it is aimed at the 8 – 12 year olds, but should be capable of universal appeal. This is a dog’s story, and never will a franchise attempt at 101 Dalmations work without this being recognised. Or even if it is. Anyway, cannibalising ideas is a Hollywood thing and not a natural practice for good writers. All the same, there are some chuckles and moments, scenes and scenarios, funnies and fluffies that work. The production design is fantabulous and Oscar-deserving for its cohesive energy and innovative bravura, so is the animal wrangling and animatronics that work hand in paw. I wish I loved it more."
Andrew L. Urban

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with audio excerpts



CAST: Glenn Close, Gérard Depardieu, Ioan Gruffudd, Alice Evans, Tim McInnerny, Eric Idle, Ben Crompton

PRODUCER: Edward S. Feldman

DIRECTOR: Kevin Lima

SCRIPT: Kristen Buckley, Brian Resgan (based on the book by Dodie Smith)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Adrian Biddle, Roger Pratt

EDITOR: Gregory Perler

MUSIC: David Newman


RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 26, 2000

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista International

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista Home Video

VIDEO RELEASE: June 20, 2001

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