[If you couldn’t figure this out based on the headline of this story, there are spoilers head for the new Cruella movie. Proceed with caution!]
Disney’s new live action Cruella hits theaters this weekend, and there are two main reasons to see it, and both of them are named Emma (Thompson and Stone, respectively, play the film’s leads). The movie serves as an origin story for the Cruella de Vil character, explaining to audiences how she got to be the dog-killing woman she is in the 101 Dalmatians movies. But the movie left me with more questions than answers. As I watched the final moments, I thought, “Wait, where does this story even go from here?” So I did some extensive Googling, and I’m here to help you, too.
This is partially an ending explained, and partially a “Wait, I’m old now, so WTF happened in 101 Dalmatians?” post. You’re welcome on both counts.
The gist of the ending:
If you just watched the movie this’ll be fresh in the brain, but I’m going to go over things just in case. At the big ball, Estella successfully gets the Baroness arrested for having her killed (even though she’s not really dead, obvs.) “Estella,” before her “death,” willed the Baroness’s entire estate to Cruella. So upon the Baroness’s arrest and Estella’s “death,” Cruella gets the mansion and all that goes with it. Even the dogs, apparently, and the Baroness’s manservant John. Convenient! Cruella, Jasper, and Horace even make a show of burying “Estella.”
While Cruella and co. are strolling through their new digs, someone asks her, “What’s next?” And she says something to the effect of, “I’ve got some ideas.” As that happens, we see both Anita, the writer, and Roger, the lawyer/pianist, receiving adorable deliveries at their respective homes: Dalmatian puppies. And that’s basically where the movie ends.
What the heck it means:
Yeah, that ending will make a lot more sense when you brush up on your 101 Dalmatians. We’re going to base this on the 1996 live action movie starring Glenn Close, because Glenn Close rules, and it feels like Stone’s Cruella is a direct descendent of the Close version.
If you recall, the couple’s names in that movie are, drumroll please, Anita and Roger. They meet because their dogs start flirting in a park one day, and eventually they get married, and their dogs get married, too, because dogs can do that, apparently. In that story, Anita works for Cruella in her fashion house, which obviously doesn’t quite track with journalist Anita in this version. But anyways, Anita finds out she’s pregnant, and she finds out her dog is pregnant, too. Cruella, who is obsessed with fur, offers her and Roger a boat load of money for the puppies. They obviously refuse, because they are decent human beings.
So Cruella takes matters into her own hands and has Jasper and Horace kidnap the puppies because she wants to skin them for coats. Absolutely insane premise for a children’s movie, but okay! There are 101 Dalmatians (*insert that Leonardo DiCaprio GIF here) in Cruella’s possession at this point, but through some movie magic, they all escape. Cruella and her henchmen go on a hunt to try to find them, but Anita and Roger figure out what happened, and eventually, Cruella, Horace, and Jasper are all arrested and the puppies are returned home safely. Anita and Roger end up with all 101 dogs. Voila.
But that still doesn’t make total sense because…
The ending of this new movie shows Anita and Roger receiving the puppies from Cruella, so maybe we’re supposed to think that Cruella sent them those two puppies to orchestrate their meeting so that she could eventually buy their dogs? But that feels like a really big stretch. Why wouldn’t she just… buy the puppies for herself and raise them all in that huge house? Is the Roger/Anita meeting in the other movies pure chance? HOW does this make sense??
And the biggest problem, IMO, with the 2021 movie is that it still doesn’t adequately explain why a person would want to skin a bunch of dogs. Like, yes, her mom was killed by Dalmatians, but… skinning puppies?! It feels a little drastic for anyone, but maybe that’s just me. The movie seems to want to tell the origin story of the Cruella character without really diving into how dark and twisted the character is, and that’s probably because it’s a movie meant for middle schoolers who don’t actually want to root for someone who murders dogs for coats. Just a thought! At least the clothes were fun??
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