Pongo the highly intelligent dalmatian is not just Roger’s best friend, he’s his alarm clock, personal assistant, and milkman. Roger is a video game developer but no one’s interested in his dalmatian game because it lacks a proper villain, a desire to annihilate.
Meanwhile, at the House of DeVil, Cruella (Glenn Close) runs a fashion empire and her look would makes Miranda Priestley look like a schlub; indeed, the devil wears DeVil. Anita (Joely Richardson), owner of Perdita, and one of Cruella’s top designers, attracts Cruella’s attention and inspires a spotted fur coat that has her boss salivating for the soft fur coats of dalmatian puppies. Unbeknownst to Anita, Cruella will stop at nothing to get her hands on the real thing. And thanks to a mutual swim in a park pond, Anita and Roger meet, and their dogs fall in love. So do they of course, and after a double wedding comes a double pregnancy (perhaps it’s lucky that Cruella only covets the skins of puppies and not babies).
Fifteen puppies come, and Cruella shows up with a cheque and a sac before Perdita’s even licked them clean. Not liking the wild glint in her eye, Anita and Roger refuse to sell them to her in a true moment of no fucking kidding.
Cruella kidnaps them anyway of course and only a strange network of animals can get them back.
Over 200 dalmatian puppies were trained for this film, and 20 adult dogs as well, some of them truly frightened of Glenn Close in full costume, hair, and makeup. I don’t know how costume designers Rosemary Burrows and Anthony Powell failed to score an Oscar nomination for their wondrous, over the top looks.
John Hughes, who wrote and produced, got the biggest paycheque for this film than for any other in his career because he snagged a piece of the merchandising and a staggering 17 000 different items were pumped out for the film’s release. There’s definitely a Hughes flavour to the film, particularly in the second half when the movie starts to feel like a doggie version of Home Alone.
This is perhaps the first of Disney’s live action remakes, and another, a prequel starring Emma Stone as Cruella, will hit theatres this spring.