Cruella ★★

Everything about Cruella looks very good, particularly Jenny Beavan's ravenous costumes. And both Emmas (Stone and Thompson) latch onto their roles with exposed teeth. But this is a worthless enterprise, a deal with the Devil. Cruella feels like its own fable but then it constantly gooses you with the sight of Dalmatians (even as instigators of death!), the origin of her name, of her henchmen, it chooses an Iggy Pop & The Stooges song simply for its dog lyrics (lol) and then totally messes up any potential goodwill it has left by adding a bloodline storyline. How unfashionable. It's 2021, characters being related to each other as the excuse for characters being how they are should be outlawed in every movie script for at least a decade. Particularly at Disney. We are connected in this world by merely existing as humans, not every consequential character needs to be spawn for it to carry heft. Here, in addition to a massive eye roll of AGAIN, it adds about 30 more minutes to the movie. The only restraint Craig Gillespie et al show is resisting the urge to play Bikini Kill's "Rebel Grrrl" because it's not from the 1960s. And there isn't an edgy cover of "Cruella de Vil" but she does gift the piano that it'll be written on later because these things are constructed solely to give an origin to every object or name you've ever seen or heard in an existing IP. (Also, miss me with another Black orphan girl being the key to amplifying a white "genius" onto the biggest stage.)

In the end, I have to turn up my nose at Cruella because it's going to make me defend Joker. Cruella takes a villain, makes her cute, and, after letting her invent punk, lets her off the hook. I gave Cruella a chance because the design is divine but, ultimately, its emblematic of everything wrong with IP obsession. Playing rock songs does not give a movie any more "edge" when it traverses the same path as most IP origin movies. Still, I think everyone involved actually gave a shit. It's just mostly shit.

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