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One Hundred and One Dalmatians Review

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When a litter of Dalmatian puppies are abducted by the minions of Cruella De Vil, the parents must find them before she uses them for a diabolical fashion statement

★★★★★

Just when you thought they’d surely run dry of fantastic films to re-release, Disney whips out the best animated classic since the last one. Co-directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, who would go on to make The Jungle Book, and produced by Uncle Walt himself in 1961, 101 Dalmations broke the rules. It has just a single song, for instance, and uses experimental animation that often leaves the backgrounds sketched in monochrome while the foregrounds have all the colour. Still, the essential elements are all in place: anthropomorphism, an evil witch (albeit a contemporary one), superbly detailed supporting characters and the family unit triumphing over adversity. The timeless Disney drill.
Set in a pretend England (mountains in Suffolk?), this is the tale of Pongo the Dalmation and his bachelor master Roger who get it together with Perdita and her mistress Anita. Their charmed life near Regent’s Park goes all squiffy when Anita’s wild-eyed chum Cruella De Vil (near enough the hammiest, scariest, most outrageous villain in movie history) takes a fancy to the idea of a black-and-white spotted coat, and we’re not talking man-made here. Which leads to the henious pupnap and daring canine rescue of the family’s new set of adorables and their 90-odd chums from the clutches of bad ’uns Jasper and Horace Badun, all holed up in Hell Hall, somewhere in East Anglia.
It is very hard to avoid hyperbole when discussing Walt Disney’s finest work: the man was, after all, a genius. So let’s not bother. One Hundred And One Dalmations is witty, soppy, scary, beautifully paced, brilliantly animated, in fact, Disney at his very, very best. See it before they withdraw it for another 15 years.

One of Disney's finest, most underrated moments