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I doubt that any actress could have essayed the role of Cruella De Vil as well as Glenn Close did in Disney's live action remake of their classic 101 DALMATIANS. I'm an adult and found Close to be a scary presence, so I can only imagine how small children react to her on the screen. Close’s performance is certainly way over the top, plus has a menacing cartoon character quality to it. The plot of 101 DALMATIANS concerns two Dalmatians, Pongo and Perdy, who along with their master and mistress dwell in London. Jeff Daniels is Pongo’s master Roger, an unsuccessful video game designer looking to make that first big sale. Joely Richardson portrays Perdy’s mistress Anita, a young fashion designer from the House of De Vil. One day in the park the dogs meet and it’s puppy love. Not only is it instant attraction for the dogs, Roger and Anita also find love at first site and are soon married.

Meanwhile, Cruella De Vil has become taken with one of Anita’s designs, one that uses Dalmatian spots as an inspiration. Cruella’s strange fascination for fur becomes an obsession when she decides to turn Anita’s innocent design into a Dalmatian fur cape. Soon, Pongo and Perdy produce a litter of fifteen puppies that Cruella is eager to purchase. When Roger and Anita refuse, the puppies are kidnapped along with every other Dalmatian pup in London. Screenwriter John Hughes incorporates a lot of HOME ALONE inspired slapstick into the tale- with the film’s villains suffering no end of indignities and physical abuse. The cast of 101 DALMATIANS also features Joan Plowright, Hugh Laurie, Mark Williams and John Shrapnel.

Walt Disney Home Video presents 101 DALMATIANS on DVD in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, although the presentation has NOT been enhanced for 16:9 playback. On an 4:3 display, the transfer is spectacular looking, with a highly detailed image and richly saturated colors that reproduce with phenomenal fidelity. Adrian Biddle’s glorious cinematography and Assheton Gorton’s sensational production design are well served by the transfer. Digital compression artifacts were virtually undetectable on this DVD.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack has a terrific mix that makes good use of the discrete channels for directional effects and deep bass. Other soundtrack options include French and Spanish language tracks. Subtitles are available in English. The interactive menus offer access to a theatrical trailer, plus the standard scene selection and setup features.

101 DALMATIANS may be a children’s movie, but adults will also find it a delight. The DVD looks and sounds tremendous. Recommended.


101 Dalmatians (1996)


DVD reviews are Copyright 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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