Linda Cook review: ‘Cruella’ is wicked, stylish fun

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Too many Emmas, it turns out, don’t spoil the plot.

Emmas Stone and Thompson are despicably delightful here in this Disney origins tale of “Cruella,” a live-action reboot of the classic animated villain.

Cruella, it turns out, begins her life as a child with half-ebony, half-white hair. Her name is Estrella. She’s the child of a hard-working single mother.

But not for long. Estrella’s mother meets her demise – no spoiler here – in an incident involving, bet you guessed this, Dalmatians.

Estrella, always with an eye for fashion and design, is befriended by the rascally duo of Horace and Jasper (Paul Walter Hauser and Joel Fry.) The trio and their canine friends are small-time thieves, picking pockets here and there, with Estrella designing costumes for their antics.

Eventually, Estrella ends up scrubbing floors in a posh environment, where she soon catches the attention of the fearsome Baroness von Hellman (Thompson.)

Estrella renames herself Cruella, and dares to make appearances at high-fashion events, where she out-glitzes the fuming Baroness and begins to make quite a name for herself in the news. Yes, the Baroness is angry that she’s being shown up by this daring young woman, but she also has respect for Cruella’s designs and outrageous appearances.

The movie is lengthy for this sort of film, clocking in at two hours and 14 minutes. But it doesn’t feel overly long because our eyes are constantly dazzled by action, color and outlandish costumes. Also, the soundtrack is superlative, with the likes of The Stooges, Queen and Electric Light Orchestra to enhance the setting of 1970s London.

The performances and the chemistry between the Emmas are enchanting. I love the glances they exchange and the close-to-hissing dialogue they swap with such venom.

It’s a frolic that will entertain the grandparents who remember the original Disney “101 Dalmatians” and little newcomers alike.

There’s nothing spotty about its quality.

3 ½ stars

Rated: PG-13 for violence and themes about loss.

Running time: Two hours and 14 minutes.

Streaming on Disney+ and in theaters.

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