Alright, for me personally, all of Disney’s live-action movies, besides maybe Beauty and the Beast, have been misses and I feel like Cruella could be cruising down the same turnpike. The film is described as following “a young grifter named Estella” who is a “clever and creative girl determined to make a name for herself with her designs.” It goes on to say that while making a name for herself on the streets of London with a pair of thieves she meets while scratching and surviving (Good Times!) she catches the attention of Baroness von Hellman. Apparently, the Baroness is the Anna Wintour of this 1970’s punk era. Somewhere down the line, they get into it and Estella becomes Cruella, an alter ego I assume, who starts to embrace a dark side that they really set the stage for in the first five seconds of this trailer.
Here’s what I’m excited about–this being an origin story. If done right, like Maleficent, we can get a really solid origin story that we can work off of in order to create sequels, because there has to be a sequel because Disney has to Disney. I’m excited to see the fashion and the cinematography. This is where my excitement stops and I want it to go far but I just don’t see it.
First, I don’t really like Emma Stone as Cruella. She just doesn’t give me the vibe of someone who started as an ambitious fashionista to a revenge-bend, dog stealing mad woman. I struggled to think of who could pull this off and I thought Anne Hathaway but I would want her to be Cruella as an adult–not a young adult. An unknown actress probably would have impressed me more. Second, this trailer is giving me Joker vibes, and not in a good way. This doesn’t seem like a well thought-out case study like Joker was. This seems like Cruella was already crazy and we’re just going with that. Yes, there’s the Baroness storyline but from the opening line about her seeing the world in a different way, the decanter of alcohol she holds in one scene and the other scenes where she just smiles and laughs maniacally. I have this eery feeling like there will be a moment where I watch this movie and go, “Wait, how did we get here?” and I don’t want that for this movie! I like Cruella. She’s not my favorite villain but her backstory has more potential than the other villains. You know who did the best origin story for Cruella? Once Upon A Time which was a hit ABC show that is a property of Disney! Use some of that charm. Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz did a great job giving these fairytale characters interesting backstories that weren’t quite what we thought they would be. Maleficent was a great origin story and that is the precedent that Disney has set for origin stories for Disney villains. This just doesn’t give me that, and I could be wrong, but when it doesn’t feel right, it usually doesn’t go right. Third, is this a children’s movie or is this for us who grew up watching this movie? I hate to keep doing this but Maleficent found a way to be both. This feels like it is just made for us adults and not the kids, because again, Joker vibes. I really do feel like at any moment Joker will appear in a scene to give her advice or help her burn down whatever building that is at the end of the trailer.
Cruella debuts in theaters, yes theaters, on May 28, 2021. I’m going and I’ll follow up with my thoughts. Disney may surprise me. Prove me wrong, Disney! What about you? Are you excited for Cruella?