Tuesday, April 18, 2017

101 Dalmatians (1996)

Year 9, Day 108 - 4/18/17 - Movie #2,602

BEFORE: Welcome back to animal cruelty week, apparently.  I'm going from a teen blinding horses to a fashionista trying to make a coat out of puppies.  Puppies!   Joan Plowright carries over from "Equus".

It seems to be quite a quiet week for television.  I'm guessing that public school is on break and most people are on vacation, but the only way I know that is from my late-night shows all showing repeats, and very few new episodes of sitcoms and dramas.  But this does give me a chance to start watching "Mad Men" Season 5, begin bingeing on Season 2 of "The Detour" and maybe knocking off some episodes of "Carnival Eats" and "Food Paradise" that are taking up space on my DVR.  Movies are still coming in at the same rate, but TV has slowed down - but I know this is only temporary, because new episodes of "Gotham" and "Fargo" are on the way, and two new shows I'm very interested in, "American Gods" and the return of "Twin Peaks".

THE PLOT: A woman kidnaps puppies to kill them for her fur, but various animals then gang up against her and get their revenge.

AFTER: See, the trend of turning Disney animated films into (mostly) live-action ones is nothing new, I know there was "The Jungle Book" last year and "Beauty and the Beast" last month, but the trend really goes back to 1996, with this dog-based film.  Actually, the term's not even accurate because of the large amounts of CGI in both of those recent films, so when you're talking about live-action remakes, this one's really the most prominent.  (Oh, and there's also "Hook".) But I do also have a few Cinderella-based films coming up this week.

If it seems like married couple Roger and Anita come together fairly quickly, you're not wrong.  Their relationship seems to be entirely based on the fact that they both own Dalmatians, and they both fell into the park's pond on the same day.  Serves them right for trying to walk their dogs and ride bicycles at the same time - you've got to pick one, people, otherwise you'll end up choking your dog, or flying off your bike when he stops to pee on something.

And of COURSE the villain has to be larger than life, that's what Disney does well, so there should be no question in the end about what's right and what's wrong, because we don't want our kids accidentally rooting for the bad person.  Or hit them with a lot of complex nuances regarding good and evil, even though in the real world there are mostly shades of grey, not black and white issues.

But it's a little strange to say that specifically making a fur coat out of puppies is wrong, wrong, wrong just because puppies are cute, and not taking a larger stance against all fur coats made from other animals.  I mean, is that where we're choosing to draw the line, making allowances for coats made from ugly, nasty minks and chinchillas?  Aren't foxes just as cute as dogs, in some ways?  By drawing the line specifically HERE we create a situation where Cruella De Vil deserves whatever nastiness comes her way, but Di Caprio's fur trapper in "The Revenant" got a really bad deal.  You can't have it both ways.

And there are some cultures that eat dogs, are those cultures automatically evil, or is the line between house pet and food merely an arbitrary one?  Again, it's probably best if we don't get kids thinking along these lines, right?  I mean, did God give Man dominion over the animal kingdom, or not?  And what if one of these little puppies is the Dalmatian equivalent of Jesus, and his death will redeem all of the other Dalmatians and get them all into Doggie Heaven?

NITPICK POINT: So the entire video-game industry hinges on whether ONE particular kid likes a game or not?  I find that hard to believe, and also a terrible business model.  Yeah, I get that the kid is symbolic of focus group testing and other things that wouldn't necessarily fit into a 100-minute movie, but it's still an odd plot point.

Also starring Glenn Close (last seen in "Guardians of the Galaxy"), Jeff Daniels (last seen in "Heartburn"), Joely Richardson (last seen in "Return to Me"), Hugh Laurie (last seen in "Flight of the Phoenix"), Mark Williams (last seen in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2"), John Shrapnel (last seen in "K-19: The Widowmaker"), Tim McInnerny (last seen in "Notting Hill"), Hugh Fraser (last seen in "Patriot Games").

RATING: 4 out of 10 vet bills

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