The Reel Review

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Emma Stone stars in Disney’s live action origin story about Cruella de Vil, the wonderfully wicked fashion designer from the classic film, 101 Dalmatians. The story follows her evolution from a street smart London grifter to an attention-grabbing fashionista. Think 2019’s Joker, just way more campy, light-hearted and fun.

Emma Stone in Cruella.

The two Emmas, Stone and Thompson, are an absolute blast, the latter clearly having the time of her life as the sinister fashion designer, the Baroness. Thompson’s Baroness makes Cruella look like a sweetheart, with a performance reminiscent of Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, just on steroids. Stone’s yin/yang hairstyle mirrors her character’s own split personalities as sweet orphaned Estella and the anti-hero Cruella.

Emma Thompson in Cruella.

Over-the-top costuming is the third major star of this film. Ten-time Oscar nominee and two time winner Jenny Beavan (Mad Max: Fury Road, A Room with a View) assembles a visual smorgasbord, which is all but guaranteed to sweep the next awards season. Director Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya) keeps the pacing brisk, loading his frenetic film with 1960s and 70s pop tunes and eye popping visuals.

Paul Walter Hauser, Emma Stone and Joel Fry in Cruella.

The biggest beef with Cruella is that – surprise! – she really isn’t cruel at all. Purists won’t like that. And despite a bloated, two hour and 15 minute run time, some of the shoehorning into 101 Dalmatians is still awkwardly convoluted. Some supporting characters are well fleshed out – Joel Fry (Yesterday) and Paul Walter Hauser (Richard Jewell) are great fun as Cruella’s criminal sidekicks Jasper and Horace, as is John McCrea as her friend Artie – while others, namely, Kirby Howell-Baptiste (The Good Place) as childhood bestie Maya – are barely there. Still, Cruella is extremely fun and entertaining enough in its own right.

REEL FACTS

• Glenn Close, who portrayed Cruella de Vil in 1996’s 101 Dalmatians is an executive producer of Cruella.

Costume designer Jenny Beavan on the set of Cruella.

• Costume designer Jenny Beavan (Mad Max: Fury Road) created 277 costumes for the film’s cast, including a whopping 47 costumes for Emma Stone and 33 for Emma Thompson.

• Emma Thompson edged out Nicole Kidman, Demi Moore, Julianne Moore and Charlize Theron to win the role of the Baroness.

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