A litter of Dalmatian puppies are kidnapped by an evil
woman who plans to skin them and make them into coats.
101 Dalmatians (1996)
Directed by Stephen Herek
Written by John Hughes
Starring Glenn Close, Jeff Daniels, Joely Richardson,
Joan Plowright, Hugh Laurie, Mark Williams
Remake of 1961's One Hundred and One Dalmatians
Based on the novel by Dodie Smith
101 Dalmatians is the original Disney live-action remake, back before they were doing it every year. It's a remake of a fairly lackluster Disney entry, in my opinion, and does a great job of building a better story. Of course, the jewel in the crown of the movie is Glenn Close's iconic and frightening performance as Cruella De Vil. Few actress can play crazy as well as she can (see Fatal Attraction for further proof), and she's a huge part of why this film has become a cult favorite. Using real dogs in place of CGI ones was a great move. After all, who doesn't smile when two real-life Dalmatians get married alongside their owners?
The plot is pretty much the same. Roger (Daniels) and Anita (Richardson) meet in the park after their dogs Pongo and Perdita fall in love. Anita works for flamboyant fashionista Cruella De Vil, who becomes obsessed with getting her hands on Pongo and Perdita's litter of 15 Dalmatian puppies. When Roger and Anita refuse, she hires Horace (Williams) and Jasper (Laurie) to steal them. But dogs are fiercely loyal in this movie, especially to other dogs, and a network of good doggies track down and save the puppies. It's actually a lot more endearing and heartwarming in live-action, because every dog is a real dog. I can't explain why, but it's so much better.
101 Dalmatians, to me, ranks among the best of Disney's live-action remakes. It updates a Disney classic in the best ways and set the bar very high for Emma Stone's upcoming take on the Disney villainess. It made me want to get a Dalmatian, though I highly doubt I'd ever find one as smart and loyal as Pongo.