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101 Dalmatians (1961)


101 Dalmatians is not a nuanced movie. Good and evil are painfully obvious. Case-in-point, Cruella De Vil billows ugly, toxic, green smoke while Roger billows pleasant, clean, white smoke. Horace and Jasper are two bumbling idiots who rely on brutish strength to make up for a complete lack of intelligence. Villains need more depth than these two have.

It is entirely unclear why Anita is still friends with her former classmate Cruella. She seems exhausted at every interaction. It feels like the writers came up with the simplest excuse they could think of to get Cruella to cross paths with the puppies. Later we find out that she has purchased 84 other dalmatian puppies. The logistics of making that purchase without arousing suspicion, or there even being that many purebred dalmatians in London at one time is unbelievable. Unlike other animated films, this one is supposedly grounded in some reality without magic.

Kids are smart. This movie seems to be too simple for most kids. The story is interesting enough to make this a classic. The scarcity of competition is probably why it is looked back at so fondly. At least it is a quick 1:18. As you dig through the vault, I would leave this movie on the shelf.

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