The sad case of Cruella

Photo by Helena Lopes on

It’s true that movies are starting to make a comeback, but they do have a little way to go. The selection has been slim and that is to be expected as the pandemic begins (we hope) to recede. We are avid movie-goers at my house. My husband and I have seriously gone to movies that were so bad that we prayed we wouldn’t meet anyone we knew on the way out. We have also attended movies that we returned to enjoy again. It is always an unknown. But it is our main Friday night entertainment–we accept that for every brilliantly done movie there are another five that could have stayed on the script-writing floor.

We also have accepted over the years that we may go to a movie and think, “That is the worst movie we have ever seen!” And certainly someone will come along and tell us that was the greatest piece of cinema ever created. This process works in reverse as well. The one thing I believe a movie-goer has to accept is that a movie is normally just a movie and everyone will have their own opinion. Most of the time it is not worth getting the proverbial panties in a bunch over.

That brings us to last week when we, for the first time since the pandemic, set foot in a movie theater to watch a movie. We took our masks, we didn’t have food and for me, a movie without popcorn is hard enough. The fact that the best choice on the marquee was Cruella only added to my apprehensions. We went, however, and in spite of the fact that I occasionally moved my hand from my lap to my mouth in a vain attempt to imagine I was eating popcorn, it wasn’t too bad. We hadn’t expected much from a movie with the premise of this one, so anything they could do to make it theatrically presentable was a surprise.

We didn’t quite feel we needed bags on our heads so no one would see us leaving the theater, but we didn’t think it was Academy Award level theater either. What I didn’t expect was that one of the critiques of it (and there were plenty) accused it of desecrating the Disney “classic” 101 Dalmatians by make Cruella a figure of evil designed to drag children down a demonic path.

I respect that everyone has the right to their point of view, but I had trouble understanding this one. For one thing, the movie is literally titled, Cruella. The word “cruel” is right there. We kind of get the hint it isn’t going to be good. Then, I have to wonder why anyone would go to this movie believing it was a good message for the kiddies. Keep in mind that the Disney classic it is based on is the story of this woman–Cruella–trying to kidnap 101 cute puppies to skin them out to make a coat for herself. I never thought that message was particularly light and kid-like.

While I think the show is a bit dark and “un-kid-like”, I have trouble with viewing it as much more than someone’s rather unusual view of what makes for a good movie premise. I do agree with those who said the acting was good, but I think the message was more thoughtless than devil-wrought. The beauty of this, of course, is that I have every right to my opinion, just like everyone else has the right to theirs.

It seems to me, however, that if we are going to worry about things that may need addressing, I’d go with politicians who lie and cheat and worry more about their own lives than about the lives of the people they are supposed to serve. Let’s worry about people starving in the world while others can’t figure out enough ways to foolishly squander their millions. And while we are at it, let’s give one or two thoughts to the elderly, the disabled and those who are otherwise in need of our assistance. Let Cruella take care of herself and those who choose to watch it be aware of their own lives.

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