Cruella

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A haughty fashion designer (Emma Thompson) and the seamstress most likely to dethrone her (Emma Stone) wage battle in this, the third live-action attempt on the part of the studio to ransack the Disney Vault, cancel originality, and in doing so, defile a classic. And what could be crueler than stretching what little story Cruella contains over 134 minutes? Instead of Hollywood know-how, this effort is steeped in Broadway camp. How much of the film’s $200 million budget went towards paying music royalties? The movie has more needle drops than a heroin den. It’s one thing for a song not to fit the action it underscores, but the filmmakers frequently can’t even match the music with the year it came out. And besides the rather understandable desire to avenge her mother’s death, not once did I feel anything disturbingly evil about either Estella or Cruella. How convincing a puppy-skinner can Cruella be when Estella’s love for her pet pups is clearly established early on? This PG-13 Cruella can no sooner smoke one of her trademarked pink cigarettes than peel a pelt. The actresses keep it alive, but in the end, this is little more than a shameless attempt on the part of the Disney brass to reconform one of its properties to fit the Evil Queen mold. Can the neutering of Old Yeller be far off? (2021) — Scott Marks

Rated PG-13 | 2 hours, 14 minutes
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