Glenn Close is back to reprise her role as Cruela De Vil, only this time she's a villain who's seen the error of her ways and is ready to embrace those cute cuddly Dalmatians without doing them harm. Or is she?
A reformed Cruela (Close) is released from prison after being cured of her need to snatch up those spotted pooches to make herself a Dalmatian fur gown. Upon her release, she feels an urge to give back to doggie society and buys a pet shelter to provide a home for stray dogs. The canine sanctuary, however, becomes the perfect trap to get her hands on the 102 Dalmatians she needs to make her newly designed spotted coat and hat after she snaps out of her "reformed" trans. Once again, the dogs and a host of new pet characters must come together to save the day -- and themselves.
Close comes through once again with a magnificent performance as the deliciously evil Cruela De Vil. Her over-dramatic laughs and facial expressions are straight out of cartoon antics which are only embellished by her equally cartoonish wardrobe. Alice Evans and Ioan Gruffudd play the sappy pet lovers who get sucked into Cruela's evil plan. They also, by the way, fall in love, but their stale performance only forces the attention onto every one of Close's scene-stealing scenes. Gerard Depardieu also extracts lots of laughs as Cruela's flamboyant fashion designer.
Kevin Lima has done a terrific job in getting a dozen or so Dalmatians to play up to the cameras (No, they didn't use 102 Dalmatians to make the film. Most of the dogs on the screen are actually computer-generated). Granted, the dogs' moves are the work of skilled trainers off camera, but Lima capitalizes on the hounds' cutesy factor by capturing the right bark and clumsy antics on film to hook the audience. It's the same formula used by Stephen Herek, who directed "101 Dalmatians" in 1996.
The spots haven't changed, only the story.