"101 Dalmatians" was one of the last movies to be made under the supervision of Walt Disney. The film has achieved great popularity and deserves its place as one of the studio's more beloved efforts. However, while the film is certainly entertaining, it falls a little short of some of the studio's most timeless efforts ("Snow White", for example.)
The film, as most are probably already aware, focuses on pooches Pongo (voiced by Rod Taylor) and Perdita (Cate Bauer), who live with their masters, Roger (Ben Wright) and Anita (Lisa Davis). Although times are tough, they are thrilled when their pups have a litter of 15 puppies. Unfortunately, someone else is thrilled - Cruella De Vil (Betty Lou Gerson), a villainess who wants the pups so she can skin them to make a coat. Late one night, a couple of Cruella's goons break in and take the dogs.
The puppies are taken to Cruella's country mansion, where 99 pups in all await being skinned to make the coat. However, Pongo and Purdy hatch a plan - with the help of some other local critters - to get their kids (as well as quite a few others) back from the evil Cruella. The story is on the thin side, but the characters, animation and performances are so charming that it does make up for a story that seems simple and familiar.
The film's animation is understandably considered basic by today's standards, but it can certainly be appreciated. Although some of the backgrounds are static, they are stunningly beautiful and drawn with great care and detail. Characters are also perfectly realized, especially the over-the-top Cruella, who remains one of cinema's most memorable villains, although her rabid quest for fashion does seem a tad psychotic.
Overall, "101" remains a delightful treat for both kids and adults alike; while not at the very top of Disney's output, the film remains a fun, charming adventure with excellent performances.
VIDEO: "101 Dalmatians" is presented by Disney in 1.33:1 full-frame on this new Platinum Edition from Disney. Picture quality is noticably improved on this new edition, as the picture appears crisper and cleaner than on the original release from several years ago. Sharpness and detail remained consistently pleasing (considering the era) throughout the show. The image also remained smooth, with only a couple of slight, barely noticable instances of wear on the source material. No edge enhancement, pixelation or other faults were spotted. Colors were where this new presentation also improved matters, as colors looked brighter and more vibrant this time around.
SOUND: The title offers a new Dolby Digital 5.1 "Enhanced For Home Theatre" presentation. Despite the 5.1 presentation, the audio - repurposed from the original mono mix - is understandably low-key, with minimal use of the surrounds, aside from some minor ambience. Audio quality was fine, with clear dialogue and music, with no noticable distortion or other faults.
EXTRAS: The first disc offers 2 subtitle fact tracks and a music video. The second disc offers interactive games, as well as the "Redefining the Line: The Making of 101 Dalmatians" documentary, "Sincerely Yours, Walt Disney" featurette, "Cruella De Vil: Drawn to Be Bad" featurette, 5 deleted/alternate songs, galleries and trailers. The extras aren't terribly extensive, but the main "Redefining the Line" does boast some interesting insights and interviews regarding the film's production history.
Final Thoughts: While it may be a slight tale, "101" still remains enchanting thanks to its charming performances, lovely animation, charm and spirit. The DVD presentation offers several new supplements, but of particular note is an impressive new transfer. Recommended.
The Film A-