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Arts & Culture
KPCW sends its most discerning moviegoers to the movies each week to let you know which films are worth going to, and which are a pass. The Friday Film Review airs after the Noon News at 12:30PM and during The Local View. KPCW Friday Film Reviewers are: Barb Bretz, Rick Brough, Mark Harrington, Linda Jager.

Friday Film Review--"Cruella"

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Movie theaters are opening up again.   One of the current attractions is a reboot of a Walt Disney classic.    Rick Brough has the details, with this week’s Friday Film Review.

The new film “Cruella” is the backstory about an iconic Disney villainess—revealing that not only is she misunderstood, but a Girl Power heroine to boot!

You’ve seen the template before—with the hit musical “Wicked” and more recently, with Angelina Jolie in “Maleficent.”

As the title character, star Emma Stone narrates her story, explaining that from the get-go she was an incorrigible child, called “Estella”, but even then with a wild mop of two-tone hair.

She was orphaned at an early age.   Her beleaguered mother ventured to a forbidding castle to ask a mysterious aristocrat for help.    Instead, Estella was traumatized as three vicious attack dogs drove her mother off a high terrace, and she fell to the rocky shore below.    (And by the way, take a guess what breed of dog they are.)

Estella made her way to London and met Horace and Jasper, two urchins out of an "Oliver Twist" time bubble, who became her sidekicks for life.

Fast Forward.    Estella grows up, and the film becomes “The Devil Wears Prada”, as she goes to work for a fashion house overseen by the haughty, selfish Baroness, played by Emma Thompson.

Before long, a Diva war to the death, waged with outlandish fashion, breaks out.     Estella, a red-headed underling by day, becomes the stylish upstart, Cruella, by night.     No, she doesn’t really want to turn a herd of Dalmatians into a coat.    But a plot twist threatens to turn her to The Dark Side.  No spoilers, but let’s just say Disney got their money’s worth by acquiring “Star Wars.”

The movie is dazzing but it’s about what you’d expect in Prequel Territory.    Director Craig Gillespie, known for the film ”I Tonya” keeps his camera moving, climbing and flying, with cover versions of Classic Rock streaming in the background.

Emma Stone, who is also a producer, commits to the melodramatic highs and lows of her character.     Stone and the only other American in the major cast, Paul Walter Hauser as Horace, chew away faithfully at their accents.    Maybe you’re not really supposed to believe they’re Brits.

One noticeable disappointment is Emma Thompson.    She is hissable, but Thompson doesn’t seem to be having much fun, and without that, what kind of Disney villain have you got?

In the end, after connecting all the dots, I give “Cruella” three stars on a scale of five.    For the Friday Film Review, I’m Rick Brough.

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