101 Dalmatians (1961) / Animation-Comedy
MPAA Rated: G, suitable for all audiences
Running Time: 79 min.
Cast (voices only): Rod Taylor, Betty Lou Gerson, Cate Bauer, Lisa Daniels
Director: Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, Wolfgang Reitherman
Screenplay: Bill Peet (based on the novel by Dodie Smith)
Review published February 14, 1998
Roger and Anita are hooked up romantically by their two pet Dalmatians, Pongo and Perdita, who also become an item. After the two dogs create a litter of 15 puppies, the wicked Cruella De Ville wants them all in order to make a Dalmatian skin coat. With the aid of two hired goons, Cruella has the puppies dog-napped and taken to her mansion to await their doom along with many other kidnapped Dalmatian pups, causing Pongo and Perdita to set out to rescue them.
101 Dalmatians is classic Disney, but far from the masterpiece the studio proudly proclaims it is on their advertising blurbs. Admittedly, it's a rather likeable animated crime comedy with good animation and memorable characters.
Not everything is rosy in this production, however. Due to cost cutting methods, the backgrounds are not bothered with and many scenes have extended periods where there is no movement at all. Granted, having to draw 101 Dalmatians is a difficult endeavor, but many of the scenes of the doggies running contain redundant animated sequences and the after a promising and amusing introduction scene where Roger and Anita meet and get hitched, the film devolves into a mere chase film.
There isn't much in the way of surprises here, with many extended periods with little in the way of action or moments of interest, and things slow down dramatically when every ten minutes there seems to be someone stopping to count all the damn dogs. 101 Dalmatians is a cute film, but derivative plotting and tedious padding keep Disney from another great one under their belt.
©1998 Vince Leo