Cruella ★½

I’m glad people are going back to the movies and finding something to enjoy in this, but I found almost every second of it completely insufferable. Craig Gillespie inarguably injects this thing with more personality than is typically visible in these Disney remakes, but it’s pretty tough to discern between directorial choices and studio-mandated ones. Nauseatingly synthetic oners? Grotesque digital dogs? The most frenetic, over-the-top pop soundtrack since Suicide Squad? They’re all elements that make sense coming from the director of I, Tonya (which I liked!) and make sense as cynical boardroom calculations to win over the Hot Topic crowd. 

The story owes as much to The Devil Wears Prada as Joker’s does to The King of Comedy and Taxi Driver: there’s too much similarity to remain a good-faith homage, but not quite enough to be a full-on remake or parody. Every eye-roll-inducing connection to One Hundred and One Dalmatians is bleakly forced and completely unnecessary, yet without its Disney IP tie-ins, nobody would care to make (or watch) this project because it’s so derivative. The overall product is so self-serious that it feels like a two-hour SNL digital short, but it’s so paint-by-numbers that none of its choices elevate it to so-bad-it’s-fun status. If this qualifies as camp, it’s some of the most uninteresting camp I’ve ever seen. At least the Emmas seem to be having a good time on set, and the bananas costume designs give us something engaging to look at.

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