101 Dalmatians



Lovable cartoon classic with cute dogs and a mean villain.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Review Date: September 28, 2004
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1961
  • Running Time: 79 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Story shows how evil greed and animal cruelty are and why it's important to treat pets well. The dogs are also an example of cooperation and teamwork to save the defenseless puppies.

Positive role models

The dalmatian parents, as well as the human "pets," are fiercely protective of their puppies, and they open their home to 84 extra puppies that have been displaced because of Cruella's evil scheme. The many English dogs in the bark network all put themselves at risk to help their fellow canines. Cruella is clearly evil, and she's soundly defeated.

Violence & scariness

Cruella can be quite frightening. Puppies/dogs are in peril, and there's a fair bit of suspense. Horace and Jasper make threatening comments to the puppies and dogs. They kidnap the puppies and are prepared to "skin" them to make Cruella a fur coat. A couple of high-speed chases, as well as close calls with the puppies as they attempt to get away from Cruella and her goons. Two cars crash and plummet off a cliff, but we don't see what happens to the villains.

Sexy stuff

Roger and Anita flirt, as do Pongo and Perdita (they rub noses). Both couples get married and are shown embracing and kissing chastely.


Cruella says "idiot," "imbecile," "fools." Horace and Jasper use threats and insults, including "shut up," "twerps," "clumsy clod," and "bumbling blockheads." Other insults include "witch," "scoundrels," "inhuman beast," and "rascals."


While there are no product placements in the film, Disney movies always generate merchandise and sequels, and in this case even a live-action adaptation.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Cruella smokes cigarettes (that emit a foul green smoke) in nearly every scene. She often spreads the ashes and puts them out all over the place. Roger smokes a pipe. Horace and Jasper drink wine straight from the bottle.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Disney's classic puppy tale is rated G but may contain a few disturbing scenes featuring one the studio's vilest villains, Cruella de Vil. As the song goes, "if she doesn't scare you, no evil thing will." For an animated movie, there's a considerable amount of smoking and drinking (Roger smokes a pipe; Cruella is always shown with her long-stemmed cigarettes; and her two henchman drink wine straight out of the bottle). Language is limited to several insults like "idiot," "imbecile," "fools," mostly said by Cruella. On the bright side, the dog parents and their human pets are relentless in their goal to save the puppies -- all of them, not just their own.

What's the story?

Like Lady and the Tramp, this story is told from the perspective of dogs, this time two dalmatians, Pongo and Perdita, the cherished pets of Roger and Anita. Anita's old friend, one of the most notorious villains in movie history, is the aptly named Cruella De Vil. Her henchmen kidnap Perdita's puppies and 84 others so she can make them into a dalmatian fur coat. Pongo and Perdita, with the help of their animal friends, undertake a daring rescue.

Is it any good?


The puppies are adorable, and the movie is exciting, funny (with a sly poke at television and the kids who watch it), and fun.

Cruella is one of the most memorable female villains in the history of the movies -- for good reason. She's loud and mean, and she is willing to wear a coat made of 101 puppies -- what could be worse!

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the responsibilities of raising a pet. Do kids think they would be able to maintain enthusiasm for their pet? Would they be responsible for feeding, brushing, playing, and walking it? What kind of commitment is it to raise a pet, particularly a dog?

  • What makes Cruella scary? Can you think of any other villians as scary as her? What similarities do all villains share?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 25, 1961
DVD release date:March 3, 2008
Cast:Betty Lou Gerson, Cate Bauer, Rod Taylor
Director:Clyde Geronimi
Studio:Walt Disney Pictures
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Cats, dogs, and mice
Run time:79 minutes
MPAA rating:G

This review of 101 Dalmatians was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written bySonia Montejano April 9, 2008


some of the scenes with Cruella might be a little frightening to younger kids..
Adult Written byGhcool April 9, 2008
Teen, 15 years old Written bybubbo April 9, 2008
A classic, and a must-see for all families.


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