Cruella

Cruella ★★★½

going into CRUELLA all I could think was “can’t wait to see how I’m gonna sympathize with a literal puppy murderer”

but— and I can’t believe I’m saying this— the end result’s really not that bad

real talk: it’s a lotta fun

I really had no interest in seeing this until
• I found out Craig Gillespie was directing
• Nicolas Britell was scoring
• Jenny Beavan was costuming
• and it featured ELO’s “Livin’ Thing” (the best song ever made)

plus I was seeing everybody recommend it and I can honeslty say it was a great time

one problem I have with a lotta these live action Disney remakes (yeah I know this one isn’t a remake I’ll talk about that later) is that while they can recruit interesting directors— more often than not they’re so ground up by the corporate machine that their stylistic signatures are often unrecognizable

well I’m genuinely happy to say that Gillespie manages to pull of a film that ACTUALLY feels like something he made— with his characteristic eye for snappy editing and ear for perfect needle drops

Britell’s score (although a lot of it gets drowned out by said aforementioned needle drops) is also surprisingly great whenever it’s able to shine through

but of course— the absolute standout here is Beavan’s costume design: WOW all of these just absolutely pop and have such a fun sense of style to them and it really makes me appreciate that Disney even tried this kinda “fashion adjacent” film and didn’t half-ass it

Emma Stone elevates Cruella from a character that could’ve been the worst thing ever into one that’s still badly written but a lotta fun to watch, Emma Thompson gives her best take on the “evil fashion world lady” a la THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA that’s also really fun, and my man Paul Walter Hauser just fuckin’ steals the whole show as Horace like seriously he’s worth the price of admission

so where does the bad come in? well— as with most of these remakes: it’s the script

now don’t get me wrong— CRUELLA’s script is far from the worse of these films

as far as my Disney Live Action Remake Principle goes (where a remake’s quality is inverse to the quality of the original film — i.e. — THE LION KING [1994] = masterpiece, THE LION KING [2019] = garbage fire) last night’s rewatch of 101 DALMATIANS left me feeling it was pretty below mediocre, so the fact that CRUELLA is fun with some flaws checks out with the formula

just don’t get in expecting anything great— there’s a LOT of really fuckin’ stupid moments in this: from the unintentionally hilarious mother death scene in the opening that’s already blown up on Twitter to a late stage that’s so generically stupid it’s equally hilarious (it also probably doesn’t need to be over 2 hours long but whatever)

it also really tries to tote this line of being a more “adult” comedy crime film while simultaneously being cartoonishly simple for kids (they really don’t recognize Cruella even with HER FUCKING MASK OFF???)

but the worst part’s probably the characterization of Cruella herself

look— I’m not saying you can’t make a dog killer sympathe— I can’t even finish that and apparently the movie can’t even address it because they tiptoe around this concept so blatantly it’s hysterical

but they also go to really weird lengths to make Cruella like an “alternate personality” from Estella and it really reeks of “evil mental illness” that’s not only bad for the character but makes her second half mistreatment of Jasper and Horace out of NOWHERE feel all the more disjointed— which’s a real shame especially when the first job did such a good job of making you ACTUALLY sympathize with her: it’s like the writers remembered halfway through “oh yeah this is a villain origin story we kinda have to make her unlikeable”

which even THAT they don’t stick to!

I genuinely don’t know if this is supposed to be a prequel or a reimagining or what but— thankfully like I said— the movie’s so much fun you don’t really think about this stuff unless you’re me sitting in my car right now overanalyzing a literal kid’s movie

CRUELLA’s biggest saving grace is honestly the fact that you’re expectations are probably so low that you don’t see it coming just how much of a great time this movie is to watch: and that’s an approach I hope more of these remakes try in the future

the CGI dogs look bad, the real dogs are cute

also they use the 2012 version of ELO’s “Livin’ Thing” which is way worse than the original so points off for that

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