This week on "Justin Hall At The Movies," I'll be reviewing Emma Stone as Disney's infamous dognapper in "Cruella."
Cruella joins the list of many Disney characters to get her movie showcased. I'm not entirely convinced that it's enough to justify its existence, but you know what? I was pleasantly surprised by a lot of it. I think it has to do largely with the casting of Emma Stone as the title character.
As with a lot of these origin stories, we get introduced to Cruella as a girl, but named Estella, who is rude and rebellious to virtually everyone around her including her own mother (Emily Beecham). One night they arrive at a party hosted by the Baronness (Emma Thompson) begging for help and through a series of unfortunate events, the Baronness' Dalmatians accidentally push her over a cliff leading to her mother's death. I wonder how she'll feel about Dalmatians as an adult?
Cruella goes on the run and encounters two street thugs and together they form a union of pickpockets so Cruella can finance her dream of being a designer.
Years later, the adult Cruella (Emma Stone) catches the attention of the Baronness and lands a job working in her store. The interplay between the two Emmas sort of reminded me of Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada.
Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser are the adult version of the thugs working for Cruella and she wants to mastermind a scheme of revenge against the Baronness and she comes up with the elaborate idea of dying her hair half black and half white and disguising herself at the Baronness fashion shows.
The movie takes place during the 1970s British punk rock movement and Cruella's tactics at sabotaging these are punctuated by classics such as "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" and "Sympathy For the Devil."
There's a reasonably entertaining movie here and I wish the filmmakers had structured it better with a leaner, efficient pace instead of giving us a movie that is 2 hours 14 minutes long which is a little too long for this kind of movie for this character.
It also suffers from a predictable arc not only terms of where Cruella eventually goes, but also in terms of certain revelations that are revealed towards the climax.
However, all the same, I am recommending Cruella largely because there is a lot of entertaining material and Stone and Thompson have so much devilish fun with their over-the-top performances.
Add to that, the sensational hair and makeup design as well as the terrific production design make this a cruel time, but in a mostly good way.
(Rated PG-13 for some violence and thematic elements.)