102 Dalmatians Movie Review

It's always a bad sign when the core audience of a film -- children -- are either walking out early or are half-asleep when the credits roll at the end of a film. That about sums up the dreadful ugliness of 102 Dalmatians, a cold pea soup of cute animals, stupid Home Alone antics, a boring puppy love subplot between dumb humans, and Glenn Close reprising her best Joan Crawford impression. Indeed, Walt Disney is rolling over in his grave again, cursing John Hughes' name for making the original live-action 101 Dalmatians, one of the worst kiddie flicks of all time, and now its sequel.

The main culprit behind the hideousness of 102 Dalmatians is its predecessor, 101 Dalmatians. The original made more than $100 million dollars at the box office, spawned a torrid collection of "collectible" items that ended up months later in the discount bins of Wal-Marts across the country, and generally made every kid on the planet want a damn Dalmatian pup for Christmas. Well, it's been about four years since then, and Dalmatian fever is coming back, and this time it's digitally enhanced.

Here's the story. Cruella De Vil (Glenn Close) is released from prison due to the "cure" of her puppy homicide urges by one Dr. Pavlov. (Oh, how witty.) She rejoins the world as a dog lover and is assigned to a probation officer, who oddly turns out to be her victim from the original film.

Cruella then becomes Ella -- dog lover -- until the plot twists, like a dog with his leash caught on the back of a moving truck, and she becomes the evil vixen again. A kidnapping plot unfurls again as Cruella decides she still needs her Dalmatian coat, but she now needs 102 Dalmatians instead of the commonly used 101 Dalmatian formula. At this point, I was envying those kids filing out of the theater.

How low have Glenn Close and Gerard Depardieu (as the film's villain) sunk in the film business? It's almost laughable in a sadistic way to watch Close walk around in costumes that seem to be pulled from the wardrobe of Flash Gordon. And Depardieu... how can a French guy have a bad French accent? And never mind the toilet brush haircut.

The only minutely positive selling point I can even think to point out is the talking bird with a British accent (courtesy of Eric Idle) that thinks he's a Rottweiler. Now that's funny.

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Gone to the dogs.


102 Dalmatians Rating

" Terrible "

Rating: PG, 2000


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