Disney’s Cruella, set in the ‘70s in London, is not what you’d expect if you’re familiar with Disney’s 101 Dalmatians from 1996. The Cruella de Vil I remember from my youth is wicked, wishing to make fur coats out of an employees’ Dalmatian puppies. However, leading actress Emma Stone creates sympathy toward the once-evil-now-not-so-much Cruella.
The story follows the unique Estella (AKA Cruella) from her childhood, demonstrating her style gets her into serious trouble, leading to alliances with two orphan boys. Together, they grow up thick as thieves — literally — surviving by completing heists with the help of their two animal companions — a scruffy terrier named Buddy and a chihuahua named Wink with a personality to match Horace, (Paul Walter Hauser), one of Estella’s companions.
To celebrate Estella’s birthday, her other companion Jasper (played by Joey Fry) gives her the best gift he could think of — a job in the fashion industry where the fashion legend Baroness von Hellman witnesses her design genius.
The Baroness is played by two-time Oscar winner Emma Thompson (Howards End and Sense & Sensibility) who does not fail to impress. She’s an easy character to hate as she is selfish, cruel, and ruthless.
Surprising and unforeseen events unfold after the Baroness takes a liking to Estella. Meeting the Baroness and realizing how awful she is, brings Cruella out to play, and once she comes out, she’s out for good.
Though the story takes more than a minute to unfold, when it does, you’re truly in for a treat as the hardworking, passionate main character quickly embraces her wicked side to get revenge on a much unexpected blast from the past.
The drama and comedy in this movie are extremely well-balanced. Our protagonist rides the ups and downs accompanied by her companions. Director Craig Gillespie doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to whiplashing the audience between drama, comedy, and action.
Emma Stone rocks the black-and-white do and plays the “evil” character surprisingly well when compared to her other, more comedic or dramatic roles. Though rumors of Stone taking the lead role arose in 2016, many questioned if she was “nasty” enough to play Cruella de Vil. She is.
Stone is the star of the show, as she portrays two entirely different characters as easy as breathing. However, after Cruella made her first appearance, I found myself waiting for Estella to come back. Perhaps because I am accustomed to seeing Stone play the sweetheart role, or maybe because I genuinely enjoyed the character. Don’t get me wrong though, Cruella was a great character as well.
I did not expect to find myself rooting for the “bad guy” and yet, here we are. Though Cruella was not the true bad guy in this film, she played the bad guy that overcomes a worse bad guy.
Whether or not you’ve seen the 1996 version of Cruella in 101 Dalmatians, I highly recommend seeing Cruella. I found it to be a great way to reach the adults that grew up with the evil Cruella and are now looking for ways to hold on to their childhood … but with a twist!