Cruella

Cruella

2021, PG-13, 134 min. Directed by Craig Gillespie. Starring Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Joel Fry, Paul Walter Hauser, Emily Beecham.

REVIEWED By Jenny Nulf, Fri., May 28, 2021

The Disney live action revolution has been uneven, to say the least. For every touching Pete’s Dragon there’s a lazy Lion King. Cruella had every odd against it: pre-production hell (the film was first announced in 2013), prequel banality, and making possibly the evilest of all Disney villains worthy of their own origin story. Who wants to sympathize with the woman who skins dogs for edgy winter coats?

But Cruella does something that, honestly, most Disney “remakes” should do, and that’s tossing the original material, and starting from scratch, re-contextualizing the ingredients and inventing something new. Cruella doesn’t escape the cheesiness that comes with remixing an original’s famous elements, but the sometimes silly components folded in by director Craig Gillespie are reminiscent of the self-aware flourishes in his previous remake, 2011’s Fright Night. Paired with a flamboyant Emma Stone as Cruella de Vil herself, there’s something continuously compelling about Cruella’s stuffed, sleek package.

In Gillespie’s rendition, Cruella is born Estella, a fashion genius, doomed to be misunderstood by many of the adult figures that cross her path. After a tragic accident involving Dalmatians, she’s left homeless and alone in London, with only her own pet dog as her companion. She immediately meets two orphans, Jasper and Horace. The gang of children steal to survive, and keep up the ruse into their adulthood, but for Estella she always yearns for more, and that more being the chance to work as a fashion designer.

Cruella is a wacky mishmash of heist and revenge. After all, what is 101 Dalmatians but a heist movie through the eyes of the stolen goods? So naturally when spinning the camera to focus on the villain, the focus turns to the intricacies and buildup to the caper. Think Ocean’s 8, but with less characters and more bank to stuff in dozens of Top 40 smash hits from the late Sixties and Seventies back-to-back (edgy music to rob to). Cruella’s dazzling heist mechanics morph seamlessly into the film’s latter half revenge plot, which is a bit of an obvious move and bloats the film’s length a bit, but ultimately works due to the delightful chemistry when Cruella finally gets a worthy antagonist.

Shockingly, Cruella is less Maleficent and more Cinderella. Emma Thompson as the Baroness channels Cate Blanchett’s cold, intelligent evil stepmother demeanor, a purely sinister presence that’s a black hole of selfishness. Stone, on the other hand, evokes her demented performances from Birdman and The Favourite. When she finally “unleashes” Cruella, she’s more confident, racy, and totally relentless. The two give expert elevating performances, and the dialogue they sling at each other is playful, biting, and occasionally corny.

Giving Cruella an adversary was the most intelligent curveball, because it reconstructs the timeless villain as a twisted antihero. There are silly nods to the original material, but in Cruella you won’t be worried about dogs getting slaughtered on screen for fur coats. Instead, get ready for an epic-length punk-and-fashion-laced battle between two wicked women scored by the incredible Nicholas Britell, whose guitar-forward edgy score progresses the film in a kinetic, electric way. Cruella is not as perfect as the seams Estella stitches, but there’s something ever so charming about its strut.

In theatres now and available on Disney Premier Access.

Showtimes

Mon., June 21

2:30, 4:15, 6:00

Mon., June 21

2:10, 6:00

Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane

5701 W. Slaughter, 512/861-7060, drafthouse.com/austin/theater/slaughter-lane

Showtimes at this venue are subject to frequent change. Please confirm daily times by phone or website.

Mon., June 21

2:00, 5:25

Mon., June 21

4:00

AMC Dine-In Tech Ridge 10

12625 N. I-35, 512/640-1533, www.amctheatres.com

Mon., June 21

CC/DVS 7:40

Tue., June 22

CC/DVS 7:40

Wed., June 23

CC/DVS 7:40

Arbor Cinema @ Great Hills

9828 Great Hills Trail, 512/231-9742

Discounts daily before 6pm.

Mon., June 21

CC/DVS 12:30, 3:40, 6:40

Tue., June 22

CC/DVS 12:30, 3:40, 6:40

Wed., June 23

CC/DVS 12:30, 3:40, 6:40

Thu., June 24

CC/DVS 12:30, 3:40, 6:40

Barton Creek Square (AMC)

2901 Capital of Texas Hwy. S., 512/306-1991, www.amctheatres.com

Matinee discounts available before 4pm daily. Bring Your Baby matinees the first Tuesday of every month.

Mon., June 21

CC/DVS 1:20, 4:40, 7:50

Tue., June 22

CC/DVS 1:20, 4:40, 7:50

Wed., June 23

CC/DVS 1:20, 4:40, 7:50

Thu., June 24

CC/DVS 1:00, 3:00, 4:10, 6:10

Cinemark 20 and XD

N. I-35 & FM 1825, 512/989-8535

Cost for 3-D and XD shows is regular ticket price plus a premium.

Mon., June 21

digital 12:45, 4:00, 6:50, 9:55

Tue., June 22

digital 12:45, 4:00, 6:50, 9:55

Wed., June 23

digital 12:05, 4:00, 6:20, 10:05

Cinemark Cedar Park

1335 E. Whitestone, Cedar Park, 800/326-3264

Call theatre for complete list of movies and showtimes.

Mon., June 21

digital 1:10, 4:30, 6:40

Tue., June 22

digital 1:10, 4:30, 6:40

Wed., June 23

digital 1:10, 4:30, 6:40

Mon., June 21

digital 4:35, 6:15, 7:50

Tue., June 22

digital 4:35, 7:50

Wed., June 23

digital 4:35, 6:15, 7:50

Cinemark Round Rock

4401 N. I-35, Round Rock, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium. Call theatre for complete March 26-28 showtimes.

Mon., June 21

digital 1:10, 2:45, 4:40, 6:40

Tue., June 22

digital 1:10, 2:45, 4:40, 6:40

Wed., June 23

digital 1:10, 2:45, 4:40, 6:40

Thu., June 24

digital 1:10, 2:45, 4:40, 6:40

Cinemark Southpark Meadows

9900 S. I-35, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Mon., June 21

digital 1:45, 5:05, 8:20

Tue., June 22

digital 1:45, 5:05, 8:20

Wed., June 23

digital 1:45, 5:05, 8:20

Cinemark Stone Hill Town Center

18820 Hilltop Commercial Dr., 512/251-0938, www.cinemark.com

Mon., June 21

digital 4:15, 6:00, 7:40

Tue., June 22

digital 4:20, 6:50, 7:40

Wed., June 23

digital 4:15, 6:00, 7:40

Wed., June 23

2:30, 7:40

Thu., June 24

2:30, 7:40

City Lights Theatre

420 Wolf Ranch Parkway, Georgetown, 512/868-9922

Mon., June 21

1:15, 4:15, 7:20

Tue., June 22

1:15, 4:15, 7:20

Wed., June 23

1:15, 4:15, 7:20

Evo Cinemas Belterra

166 Hargraves Ste. A-100, 512/457-0700, www.evocinemas.com/drippingsprings

Mon., June 21

12:30, 3:45, 7:30

Tue., June 22

12:30, 3:45, 7:30

Wed., June 23

12:30, 3:45, 7:30

Thu., June 24

12:30, 3:45, 7:30

EVO Entertainment

3200 Kyle Crossing, Kyle, 512/523-9009, www.evo-entertainment.com

Mon., June 21

10:45am, 1:45, 4:45, 7:45

Tue., June 22

10:45am, 1:45, 4:45, 7:45

Wed., June 23

7:45

Thu., June 24

11:15am, 2:15, 5:15, 8:15

Film Alley Bastrop

1600 Chestnut St, Bastrop, 512/321-0123, bastrop.filmalley.net/

Mon., June 21

12:20, 3:30, 6:45

Tue., June 22

12:30, 3:45, 6:55

Wed., June 23

12:20, 3:30, 6:45

Thu., June 24

12:30, 4:05, 7:40

Galaxy Highland 10

6700 Middle Fiskville, 512/467-7305, www.galaxytheatres.com

No one under 18 will be allowed in the theatre on Friday or Saturday after 7pm without an adult.

Mon., June 21

CC 12:15, 3:40, 6:55

Tue., June 22

CC 12:15, 3:40, 6:55

Wed., June 23

CC 12:15, 3:40, 6:55

Thu., June 24

CC 12:15, 3:40

Gateway Theatre

9700 Stonelake, 512/416-5700

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Mon., June 21

CC 1:00, 4:05, 7:10
CC/DVS 1:00, 4:05, 7:10

Tue., June 22

CC 1:00, 4:05, 7:10
CC/DVS 1:00, 4:05, 7:10

Wed., June 23

CC 1:00, 4:05, 7:10
CC/DVS 1:00, 4:05, 7:10

Thu., June 24

CC 1:00, 4:05, 7:10
CC/DVS 1:00, 4:05, 7:10

AMC Lakeline 9

11200 Lakeline Mall Dr., Cedar Park, 512/335-4793

Discounts daily before 6pm.

Mon., June 21

CC/DVS 6:40

Tue., June 22

CC/DVS 6:40

Wed., June 23

CC/DVS 6:40

Moviehouse & Eatery

8300 FM 620 N., Bldg. B, 512/501-3520, www.themoviehouse.com/trails/

Mon., June 21

12:00, 3:00, 6:30

Tue., June 22

12:00, 3:00, 6:30

Wed., June 23

12:00, 3:00, 6:30

Thu., June 24

12:00, 3:00, 6:30

Moviehouse & Eatery - Lantana Place

7415 Southwest Pkwy., Bldg. 7, 512/572-0770, www.themoviehouse.com/lantana/

Mon., June 21

12:00, 3:30, 7:00

Tue., June 22

12:00, 3:30, 7:00

Wed., June 23

12:00, 3:30, 7:00

Thu., June 24

12:30, 4:00, 6:00

Southwest Theaters at Lake Creek 7

13729 Research #1500, 512/291-3158, www.southwesttheaters.com

$6.50 children and senior tickets (all-day), $5 Tuesdays (all tickets), Bargain Matinees before 5pm daily.

Mon., June 21

11:30am, 2:00, 3:50, 6:30

Tue., June 22

11:30am, 2:00, 3:50, 6:30

Wed., June 23

2:00, 3:50, 6:30

Thu., June 24

2:00, 3:50

Mon., June 21

12:30, 3:30, 6:30, 9:30

Tue., June 22

12:30, 3:30, 6:30, 9:30

Wed., June 23

12:30, 3:30, 6:30, 9:30

Thu., June 24

12:30, 3:30, 6:30, 9:30

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Cruella, Craig Gillespie, Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Joel Fry, Paul Walter Hauser, Emily Beecham

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