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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Disney's classic puppy tale 101 Dalmatians 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.
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What's the story?
Like Lady and the Tramp, 101 DALMATIANS 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 still one of the most memorable villains in the history of the movies -- for good reason. She's loud and mean, and she's willing to wear a coat made of 101 puppies -- what could be worse?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the responsibilities of raising a pet, as Roger and Anita do in 101 Dalmatians. 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?
- In theaters: January 25, 1961
- On DVD or streaming: 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
- Character strengths: Teamwork
- Run time: 79 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- Last updated: April 12, 2021
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