I'll make this quick, though God knows Disney didn't when it approved Cruella's inexplicable two and a half hour runtime.
Disney's most recent addition in it's seemingly never ending live-action library shares the same problem as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Mulan before it:
It's awful pretty, but so painfully dumb.
Yet again, the costume design and set construction of Disney's newest golden child are impeccable. Not a penny was spared in ensuring that Cruella received the full blockbuster face lift needed for the dazzling, glitzy ad campaign which preceded its release. The fashion world of 1970s England is brought to life, the character designs are fabulous, and the fashion is downright wicked.
Unfortunately, that lovely, shallow veneer does little compensate for a laughably weak script, a nonsensical plot, and the gutted villainess-turned-heroine that was once our delightful, devilish Cruella.
But I've grown so tired of bitching and moaning about a sequence of films that Disney clearly never is going to invest real artistry into. The frustration that it causes me is doing something ugly to my very soul, and I'd despair to become some shriveled YouTube hate-rant critic because of, God forbid, Disney of all things.
So, for the good of my sanity, I've finally accepted that these films will always be hollow, half-conceived cash cows chewing at the leftover cud that is our nostalgia for Disney's Golden Age. My expectations are below nill, and I've fully committed to the necessity of just turning my brain off when consuming these pretty, painfully empty popcorn films.
That's perhaps the best advice I can give at this point, when one considers watching one of these films. Abandon all hope, and just indulge with a bowl of shitty snacks and your brain ticked off.
Got it? Good.
Now that we've lazily resigned ourselves to mediocrity, let's take one last look at Disney's Cruella.
It's goofy, through and through. Yes, it's dumber than a box of rocks, with all-too frequent bursts of painfully poor acting even from it's best cast members—though Emma Stone gleefully adds a vital injection of camp to the ludicrous lead role, Paul Walter Hauser will never not be hilarious, and Emma Thompson can do no wrong. Altogether, it's wasteful, brainless, and boneless, but it's also fun.
If you don't believe me, take it up with the murderous CGI dogs, or the climactic party of Cruella's, or the impromptu grunge rock fashion concert in the film's second act. I don't make the rules. These are innately fun things. They are maddeningly ridiculous, and not in the diabolically self-indulgent way of Glen Close's Cruella, but I've lost the plot and I'll settle for a dose of pleasant stupidity rather than drudgery.
At this point, even with the usual, entirely valid inundation of negative reviews maligning this wasteful use of a Hollywood budget and talented minds, I think that even the most bitter among us are tired enough to find some lazy enjoyment in this dummy blockbuster. Make no mistake: I'd have no lost love for this film if it suddenly disappeared from the Disney Plus spotlight page, never to return. That being said, after a cosmically cursed year and a half struggle with the pandemic and a slew of other exhausting historical events, I think we could all do with a little mindless glitz. Wedged between family members I hadn't seen in months, with a mugful of cheap moscato taking the edge off of things, I found my own fun with this mess.
And for now, that's my final word on the matter. Cruella is lovely, dumb, and virtually artless, but also fun.
Well, fun enough. But only if you tuck away your principles and expectations, sling an arm around your family, and allow it to be.
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