Dir: Kevin Lima. US. 2000.
Prod co: Walt Disney Pictures. Worldwide dist: Buena Vista/BVI. Prod: Edward S Feldman. Scr: Kristen Buckley & Brian Regan, Bob Tzudiker & Noni White, from a story by Buckley & Regan and the novel The One Hundred And One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. DoP: Adrian Biddle. Prod des: Assheton Gorton. Ed: Gregory Perler. Mus: David Newman. Main cast: Glenn Close, Iaon Gruffudd, Alice Evans, Tim McInnerny, Gerard Depardieu, Ian Richardson, Timothy West, Jim Carter.
Walt Disney Pictures has blazed the trail in brilliant animated movies which can be enjoyed by both children and accompanying parents (the Toy Story movies, Tarzan, Aladdin) but its live-action films have traditionally failed to duplicate that magic. 102 Dalmatians, for example, is so dumbed down not only from the 1961 animated classic but even from the charmless 1996 live-action version that it will surely delight only the youngest of children.
That's where marketing comes in, and Disney's lavish campaign for this lame sequel cum remake should - undeservedly - score a resounding hit at the box office worldwide. Families will flock to see the continuing adventures of Cruella De Vil, drawn by the hype and the unfulfilled promise of a fun-filled holiday adventure. The 1996 film took $180m in international markets and $136m in North America and 102, though it thoroughly tarnishes the 101 Dalmatians brand, might come close. Let's hope some more invention and class goes into 103.
Cruella has been imprisoned for her atrocities towards dogs in the first movie but is let out on probation thanks to a new therapy which has made her love dogs. Her probation officer (Evans) owns several dalmatians and is highly suspicious of Cruella's investment in a dilapidated dogs home run by kindly dog lover Gruffudd. Of course, De Vil's new leaf doesn't last for long. She is soon up to her old tricks stealing dalmatians to make her perfect fur coat and enlisting French peltier Depardieu to help her do the job. Meanwhile Evans and Gruffudd are on her tail.
Close is alarmingly over the top as Cruella, Depardieu is singularly unfunny as the Frenchman and Evans and Gruffudd are sickeningly squeaky-clean. At least the dogs are cute.