'Dalmatians': One Too Many
By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 24, 2000
Walt Disney knows that parents will take their kids to
anything during the holiday season, even if it's the kiddie equivalent of "Ishtar."
That's the only plausible explanation for "102 Dalmatians," a sequel so dull
and formulaic, it ought to be leashed and led directly to the doghouse.
Glenn Close and Gerard Depardieu play with puppies in "102 Dalmatians."
(Walt Disney Pictures)
Obviously this movie (101 minutes isn't that cute?) is aimed to please young fans. But it's paced much too slowly for
juvenile fidgeters. It's hard to imagine kids paying more than lukewarm
attention to this drone of a movie, its insipid romantic couple (Alice Evans
and Ioan Gruffudd) and, most disappointing of all, Glenn Close's toothless
encore as Cruella De Vil.
The grand dame's villainy is so blandified, she's just a cackling eccentric
in garish clothing schemes. Scary? Naaa. Funny? Hardly. As Monsieur Jean
Pierre Le Pelt, Cruella's sinister partner in crime, Gerard Depardieu isn't
amusing so much as a bad sight gag. In his leopard-skin garb, his spiked hair
and a physique that screams "No more butter sauce!," he suggests an inflated
cross between Rod Stewart and Siegfried & Roy.
After three years in the slammer for dognapping (in the 1996 live-action
movie, as opposed to the charming 1961 cartoon original), Cruella De Vil has
undergone an apparently miraculous transformation. She's just darling these
Released from prison for good behavior, she tries to persuade her skeptical
probation officer, Chloe Simon (Evans), that she's on the straight and
narrow. Her first move: to save a financially troubled dog shelter, run by
genial manager Kevin Shepherd (Gruffudd).
Has Cruella really learned her lesson? Is she really locking away those
expensive fur coats? And can she keep her hands off Chloe's Dalmatian puppies
Little Dipper, Domino and Oddball, who happen to be the grand-pups of good
old Pongo and Perdy?
Prepare for the dullness, scripted by a small menagerie of writers and
directed by first-timer Kevin Lima. If there's anything moderately funny
about this movie, it's the character of Waddlesworth. As voiced by Eric Idle,
he's a parrot who's under the delusion that he's a Rottweiler. But let's face
it: When you need a parrot to save a Dalmatian movie, you know you've got
"102 Dalmatians" (G, 101 minutes) Contains the suggestion of skinned Dalmatians, as well as long takes of
Gerard Depardieu's thighs.