Cruella [Grade: B]

Director: Craig Gillespie

Story By: Tony McNamara, Aline Brosh McKenna, Kelly Marcel, Dana Fox, and Steve Zissis

Cast: Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Joel Fry, Paul Walter Houser, Mark Strong, John McCrea, & Andrew Leung

* * *

Like the promotion commercial says, “#Cruella is the event of the summer…” Hell, it was my anticipation since early spring, mainly because I really wanted to see Emma Stone’s portrayal of such an iconic Disney villain, and I was thoroughly impressed. 

* * *

Below are my grades for key components in #Cruella that I find to be key in any story/film/series—Theme, Plot, Pacing, and Character Arc/Development. 

Additionally, I have added an entertainment factor scale to help you determine whether or not the film is something you’d be interested in taking time out of your weekend, evening, or day to watch. The scale range consists of: Worth the Watch/$$$, Interesting Enough (if looking for something new to start), & Don’t Rush.

I have also added a few non-spoiling thoughts, wonderings, and comments as I watched the film to help give some rationale for my grades and entertainment scale.

* * *

Theme: B-

Plot & Story: A

Pacing: A-

Character Arc/Development: B-

General Entertainment Factor: Worth the $$$/Watch

Film Enthusiast Entertainment Factor: Worth the $$$/Watch

* * *

TAKEAWAYS:

1. First and foremost, I just want to give a shout out to Andrew Leung! He barely had lines, but came and did his part of the assignment with his expressions! I really adored him. 🤣👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👍🏾

2. As Lauryn Hill wrote, “How you gon’ win when you ain’t right within…” this seemed to be a key theme of this film that was carried out pretty well via Stone’s character towards the second half of Act 2 and the duration of Act 3. 👍🏾

3. WINK! Everything Horace felt, I felt too! 😩🥰

4. I truly enjoyed watching Emma Stone take on Cruella. I mean, she was already #ThatGirl, but she’s truly showcased her range in this film—especially during her monologue at the fountain! 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👍🏾

5. The character arc/development was decent. It supported us seeing Estella vs Cruella for the most part, and led to a slightly grey area positive arc in the end. 👍🏾

6. To piggyback off of point #2, although the theme was pretty solid, issues with the character development and pacing holds the theme from truly blossoming. Because of the amount of time given to Act 1, one would expect to see this background of terror, but there was nothing major in Act 1 that really displayed “Cruella” as someone who was wicked/mean to the core. Yes, she had very vocal opinions about things, but she wasn’t “mean.” Additionally, her “violence” wasn’t intentional, they were in self defense. 🥴🤷🏾‍♂️

 7. Were the dogs CGI? Especially puppy Buddy? I mean, it was done really well. 🤔👍🏾

8. Speaking of CGI, something felt a little lazy/too obvious with the “parachute” scene CGI… 🤦🏾‍♂️

9. To piggyback of point #5, the pacing of Act 1 unfortunately allowed light to hit 3 major flaws—the rationale behind her hair, conversations about the film’s ability to truly showcase environment’s impact on a child, and possible mental diagnosis becaaaaause… this was more than just a Sasha Fierce alter ego. #CanWeTalkAboutIt?👀👀👀

10. Speaking of pacing, the best flow of the film takes place during the second half of Act 2 and all of Act 3. Act 1, though slightly appreciated, wasn’t used as intentionally as it could’ve been used in my opinion, and it was also a little rushed. Why not add this internalized struggle/challenge caused at her birth? Or maybe an incident that resulted in her hair needing to change? Why couldn’t we actually give a flaw to the mother’s raising skills that actually had an impact on the way Estella grew up and saw the world? There was just so much more purpose that could’ve been given to all that time vs what we receive. 🤦🏾‍♂️🤦🏾‍♂️🤷🏾‍♂️

11. The Baroness… Yes! Emma Thompson also delivered. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾🙌🏾👍🏾

12. The setting and fashions… … 😍😍🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾

13. The getaway car scene! SO nostalgic! She had them shoulders and 10 & 2 down! #YesEmma! 🤣🤣🤣👍🏾

14. However, to point #13, Jasper asked her a question in the car, and she gave a response that didn’t support what we saw with the bike ride… and the garbage truck… 🥴🥴🤦🏾‍♂️

15. YEEEESSSSS for the Roger and Anita utilization and plug! 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

16. Horace was such a pleasure. He also understood the assignment. 👍🏾👍🏾

17. For some reason, I feel like Emma Thompson ad libbed that “you’re in the way” moment, and I liked it. 🤣👍🏾

18. OOOOOOOO the moths! #SheDidThat! 😩🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾

19. I really wished they would’ve continued with the “masking…” it was clear by the 3rd outfit who this woman was because she was completely #FacedOut. Not to mention, her accomplices were completely visible—the costuming had stopped by this point of the film. 🤦🏾‍♂️🤦🏾‍♂️

20. The screenplay was very much appreciated. I loved the focus on Cruella’s passion and genius as a designer which really helped give the film this “cool” edge and overall fun and entertaining factor. 👍🏾👍🏾

21. “I seem to be having a slight tone delivery problem…” 🤣🤣🤣 Stone was a hoot for that! And the look Baroness gave was very #TonyTalks 😩🤣

22. Baby, the LEWKS! They were not playing games! I think the #TrashTrain was my favorite.🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

23. When the Baroness responded with “uh-huh” … #iDied! As a friend said, “Oh, she’s so self aware!” 🤣🤣🤣

24. CHILE! Why didn’t the camera man come up a little during that Artie visit? Them pants were fitting a little too snug in the front… … 🥴🥴🥴🤦🏾‍♂️🙈

25. So….when did she go from “dye” to a wig? 🤨🤨

26. I LOVED the ending credits visuals! 😩😩🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾

* * *

Overall, #Cruella is Disney princess vs evil queen trope-meets-Devil Wears Prada-meets-If Miss Hannigan from Annie had dreams of being a designer-meets-Monster In Law antics-meets Netflix Lupin. The beginning/Act 1 is a drag, but Acts 2 and 3 make up for it. I loved how the film expounded on who Cruella essentially was—a designer—but I do wish that Disney would have taken a little more risk and creativity with a darker, yet socially resonating/relatable exposition to setting up Cruella better like with #Joker…OR if trying to take the Maleficent approach, use more of Acts 1 and 2 to lay the foundation to a positive upbringing and life that turns when we finally meet the key villain. 

BUT…it is a fun time, nonetheless, especially for the PG-13 demographic. Additionally, once it takes off, it’s a really entertaining take for us millennials who grew up on the original 101 Dalmatians. 

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