102 Dalmatians

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102 Dalmatians

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Q: What's less relevant than a live-action remake of a classic cartoon? A: A sequel to that remake. The new 102 Dalmatians, a follow-up to Disney's 1996 recycling of its beloved 1961 animated feature, pulls the Glenn Close incarnation of Cruella DeVil out of mothballs for another doomed attempt at a Dalmatian-skin fur coat. (The extra dog is for the hood, in keeping with current fashion trends.) Paroled after undergoing some Clockwork Orange-style rehabilitation therapy, the evil-free Close locks up her beloved furs and takes an interest in a scrappy animal shelter run by two do-gooder ex-cons. Under the guidance of pretty, Dalmatian-owning parole officer Alice Evans, Close attempts to make amends for her past offenses, but once the therapy wears off, her thoughts naturally turn to skinning puppies. Feeling like one of those low-rent direct-to-video sequels Disney pumps out to squeeze every last dollar from a recognizable brand name, 102 Dalmatians disappoints even the modest expectations raised by its predecessor. John Hughes' script faithfully transplanted the 1961 version to the flesh-and-blood world, adding some Home Alone-style sadism for good measure, and while the results were less than spectacular, they rarely offended. This film, on the other hand, attempts to up the ante on cacophony while otherwise cutting corners. Aside from a dog named Dipstick, only Close returns from its predecessor, and the addition of a sass-talking parrot voiced by Eric Idle (for that Look Who's Talking Now flavor), a drooling mastiff, a spotless Dalmatian with an inferiority complex, and Hollywood Gaul-for-all-occasions Gérard Depardieu as a sadistic furrier named Le Pelt doesn't help matters. Watching Close and Depardieu, in their first screen pairing, hamming it up while chasing dogs through the streets of Paris provides a so-it's-come-to-this moment on par with Harvey Keitel's gypsy turn in Monkey Trouble. But even the most masochistic star watchers, forgiving animal lovers, and undiscriminating children will likely tire of 102 Dalmatians fairly quickly.

Filed Under: Film

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