Classic Intel: 101 Dalmatians - Online Review

'a willing and able Jeff Daniels and Joley Richardson play second fiddle to a pair of Dalmatians'

Colour me surprised to find that Disney’s live action version of 101 Dalmatians, only has an average rating of roughly five and a half out of ten on IMDb. OK, granted, your average IMDber isn’t exactly likely to be a fan of the average family friendly comedy and the second half is as weak as a chocolate bridge in the height of Summer, but really people: how can you have so much ill-will towards this film?

The first half is a great little animal-rom-com (not what you’re thinking), as a willing and able Jeff Daniels and Joley Richardson play second fiddle to a pair of Dalmatians, who fall in love whilst dunking their owners in a lake. The visual comedy doesn’t exactly reach new and innovative heights but the bike chase scenes are well shot and the human duo’s willingness to commit to the whirlwind romance (they’ve barely met by the time we cut to a wedding scene) is endearing. The dogs, meanwhile, provide the cuteness factor.

An underlying plot in the film follows Daniels’ attempts to sell a videogame where the villain ‘isn’t scary enough’. No such problem in the film, as Glenn Close has an absolute ball as Cruella DeVil, mixing comic book excess with thespian delivery as she spits lines at various underlings and enemies. The casting in general is note perfect: where else could you find the two beleaguered, comic-relief, henchmen being played by such great screen presences as Hugh Laurie and Harry Potter’s Mark Williams? These two, like Close, have a great deal of fun cutting lose with their physical comedy, bouncing off one another with tremendous relish.

The aforementioned second half of the film though, as the elder dogs try to rescue their younger pups, really falls into cloying, overly sentimental territory. A dogs vs humans siege in an old house feels rather like a poor man’s Home Alone and by not giving the animals voices, Disney treat us to an incessant and annoying amount of barking. Still, it’s a great family film in places and the first half in particularly will probably do enough to raise a few chuckles out of the adults too.

101 Dalmatians is available to watch on BBC iplayer until Saturday 23rd October.

Look further...

'a despicable motion picture. Not only is it completely unnecessary (the animated version is perfectly adequate), but it's a blatant example of Disney's commercialism run rampant' -, 1.5/4


  1. i'll admit it. i've never seen this one... but it more has to do with the fact that glen close scares the crap out of me! no idea why! she just terrifies me... :)

  2. Ha ha, she is pretty damn terrifying in this. I wouldn't actively go out and buy it or anything but if it happens to be on then it's a harmless watch.

  3. it's rather odd going back and watching this movie as I spent the entire time waiting for Hugh Laurie to whip out the Vicodin and Williams a wand. I know it's sad, but I can't help myself. Adds a whole new layer to the film.

    As a kid I remember spending the entire time going *spoiler* 'isn't that the guy who died in Speed?' *end spoiler* So, it's safe to say my viewpoint on films hasn't changed much.

  4. Those two are the highlight for me although, with not watching House and having limited interest in Potter, I can't say my watching habits followed yours!