Dare we say Disney+’s Cruella is camp? Or is it more of a couture circus with a glimmer of insanity? Alas, it seems neither categorization works for this wild, oddly surprising, and definitely head-scratching Disney+ film.
You may not want or expect Emma Stone to be the famed fur-obsessed puppy murderer (need we remind you of the actual plot of the dark 101 Dalmatians?), and nor may you buy her slippery British accent. But what you definitely will be begging for more of is the costume design, makeup tricks, and of course, Emma Thompson’s chilly chic presence that steals every scene.
Estella (Stone) wasn’t born cruel; she was made that way. A sad backstory including a tragic childhood and the kind hearts of two thieves leads Estella to land her dream job against all odds at a department store. Fashion designer the Baroness (Emma Thompson) takes credit for Estella’s work, eventually leading to Estella’s breaking point aka the birth of her Cruella de Vil alter ego – and breeding her hatred for Dalmatians, the Baroness’ pet of choice. With a pop-punk soundtrack, Estella-turned-Cruella takes on the London fashion scene with plenty of dark eyeliner, safety pin dresses, and cackles to the camera. We couldn’t help but think of the words from another seemingly family-friendly film with a dark twist: “Death by Fashion.” Yep, that was the proposed magazine restructuring concept in 13 Going On 30.
Cruella has sparked comparisons to Devil Wears Prada (nope), Joker (just stop), and Maleficient (probably most accurate). It’s hard not to adore Stone and Thompson in almost every single movie spanning their respective careers, and while Cruella certainly pushes the bounds of our love for its two leading ladies, the film is more about the performance art of spectacle rather than story. And with that, the vampy Cruella sashays into the forgotten void, leaving us wondering whether Glenn Close’s original live-action character is still plotting her mastermind revenge 25 years later. Let’s just say Stone’s Cruella is all bark and no bite.
Cruella premieres on May 28 in theaters and available to stream on Disney+.