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101 Dalmatians (SE)
DVD disk
Mar 10, 2008 By: Jason Adams
101 Dalmatians (SE) order
Director:
Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, Wolfgang Reitherman

Actors:
Rod Taylor
Betty Lou Gerson
Ben Wright

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Vile villainess Cruella De Vil has kidnapped a hundred Dalmatian puppies (give or take one or two) with the intention of making a personal line of stylishly spotted fur coats. Now it’s up to parent pets Pongo and Perdy, along with a few animal friends, to rescue the endangered pups.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
101 DALMATIANS marked a turning point for Walt Disney animation, and its distinctiveness is readily apparent for fans of the Mouse House. Bucking the traditional Disney formula, the film was a straightforward story with no musical sequences (unless you count Roger singing a line or two from his song), and one that reveled in its modern day, true-to-life setting. London as represented offers a real-world danger to the characters, while the use of pop culture references—the Kanine Krunchies jingle, the cultish TV hero dog, even an appearance by a certain Tramp and his Lady—injected a vitality that set 101 DALMATIANS apart from similar movies and makes it still highly entertaining today.

Also noticeable is a slightly different animation style, thanks to the use of xerography, or photocopying animation to cells, in order to save time and money. While this led to a decline in the fluid beauty of the hand-painted cells of SNOW WHITE and SLEEPING BEAUTY (not to mention the unfortunate loss of half the classic Disney animation department), the cruder style actually fits the world of 101 DALMATIANS better. Writer/animator Bill Peet used this to his advantage, bringing a distinctive flair to the film’s animation AND it’s story. Many timeless images come to life through Peet’s imagination, from classic character designs (who can forget Cruella De Vil or the portly nanny?) to sequences like the Twilight Bark, or the magical moment when the fifteenth puppy comes back to life—a scene that’s stuck with me since childhood.

The other thing that makes 101 DALMATIANS stick out is Cruella De Vil, one of the all-time great Disney villains, and another example of the real-world shift. While other bad guys from Disney canon were preoccupied with poisoning apples or casting spells, this nutty English broad wanted to skin a hundred puppies and wear their pelts as a fashion statement. I don’t know about you, but that’s an assload scarier to me than a wicked queen or an inept one-handed pirate.
THE EXTRAS
Disney’s Platinum Edition series have been consistently great, and although the 101 DALMATIANS DVD isn’t as stacked as some of their previous releases, there’s still plenty here to satisfy fans.

Disc 1:
Two Trivia Tracks: 101 facts for the family and 101 facts for the fan.

Selena Gomez’s Cruella De Vil Music Video (3:26): A truly awful rock version of the song by some Disney Channel star.

Previews.


Disc 2:
Redefining The Line (33:59): A seven part Making Of documentary with interviews from classic Disney animators, as well as recent filmmakers like Brad Bird and Pete Doctor. The feature sheds light on the history of the project, the music, the changing animation techniques, and the pain of hand-drawing six million Dalmatian spots.

Cruella De Vil: Drawn to Be Bad (7:09): A quick look at the development of the classic character, as well as her impact on future Disney villains. It’s cool to see how effective a character can be just from just a design perspective.

Sincerely Yours, Walt Disney (12:37): A summation and reenactment of Walt Disney’s correspondence with 101 DALMATIANS author Dodie Smith, which provides a personal chronicling of the film’s path to production.

March of the One Hundred and One (1:57): A deleted song that was supposed to be used in the final chase sequence.

Musically, you also get two Abandoned Songs newly recorded, an Extended Version of “Dalmatian Plantation,” and Alternate Takes of “Cruella De Vil” and the “Kanine Krunchies” theme song.

For the kiddies, there’s a Create Your Own Virtual Dalmatian activity, a verrrrry sloooooow Fun With Language game, and a Puppy Profiler that matches you to your rightful owner. I was a German Shepherd that got paired with Aladdin. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.

A handful of Trailers, Radio and TV Spots.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Like most classic Disney films, 101 DALMATIANS remains a superbly executed animated movie that should be required viewing for anyone over the age of three. This new Platinum Edition DVD is worthy of being added to your collection.

Extra Tidbit: After leaving the Walt Disney Company, Bill Peet went on to write and illustrate a bunch of my favorite children’s books. He passed away in 2002.
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