As far as animal movies, perhaps the dog is best suited for the role. They are man's best friend after all so we must share some sort of connection with them. Dogs are intelligent, they're active, they thrive on relationships, they like to eat. Except for the lack of talking, the sometimes questionable places in which to use the washroom and the obvious appearance issue, humans and dogs really are a lot alike. But dogs have the inherent cute factor as well. And what dog is cuter and more elegant than the Dalmatian?
Disney's 101 Dalmatians could have easily suffered from excess and overkill given the shear size of the titular cast. But thanks to a couple of choice pooches and a genuinely dastardly villain, "cute and cuddly" pretty much sums up this canine caper - once you get past the idea of a lady looking to make a coat out of dalmatian puppies.
Pongo (voiced by Rod Taylor) and Perdita (Cate Bauer) are perhaps the perfect canine couple. Pongo is an active go-getter while Perdita is more the laid back type, a quiet warrior who acts more on common sense than compulsion. With the birth of their puppies, they've got a good thing going. But there's no conflict in that. Enter Cruella De Vil (Betty Lou Gerson), one of the most flamboyant villains in the Disney animation canon. She's pretty scary in her own right, but there's also the fact that she's looking to make a piece of dalmatian outer wear. And for dalmatian outer wear you need dalmatians And since people won't normally hand over their puppies to be made into a coat, Cruella must resort to stealing them.
After Pongo and Perdita's litter is dog napped, they set forth on an adventure to get them back. With a little help from some friends, the quest becomes hairy and crazy like only a Disney cartoon can. For the most part, that's a good thing.
101 Dalmatians works largely because of its memorable characters. Disney can use all the wicked witches and hook-handed pirates they want, but it's the very human Cruella that is the most gruesome in my books. To me she's along the lines of a cannibalistic granny found in the real fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel. She's creepy beyond belief and there's a fierce side that any candidate for America's Next Top Model should take notice of.
Besides Cruella, several of the canine characters also stand out. The Dalmatian puppies are each given their own personality to appeal to most types. There's also the dogs that Pongo and Perdita meet along their journey. A couple are a little simplistic but for the rest they're make for a rich pooch world.
Towards the end of the film I found 101 Dalmatians to be a little repetitive as the locations seemed to go more back and forth and back again. It led to something of a deja vu feeling at a couple of points.
Still, 101 Dalmatians is rich in character and attitude, most notably for its villain that ranks among the all-time best, not just in Disney films but all films. The rest is a fun enough affair that will likely delight most children and mildly amuse their families.
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One Hundred and One Dalmatians, often abbreviated as 101 Dalmatians, is a 1961 American animated film produced by Walt Disney and based on the novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. The 17th in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, the film was originally released to theaters on January 25, 1961 by Buena Vista Distribution.
The film features Rod Taylor as the voice of Pongo, the first of the Dalmatians, and Betty Lou Gerson as the voice of the villainous Cruella de Vil. The plot centers on the fate of the kidnapped puppies of Pongo and Perdita.