A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Intended to entertain rather than inform. One lengthy action sequence takes place in a bakery production facility and behind the pratfalls and chaos, offers glimpses of the baking process on a massive scale. A few English and French landmarks are seen and identified.
Actions speak louder than words -- just bragging about having learned a lesson is worthless unless behavior backs up the pronouncements. Be careful with trust; it's a precious gift and not to be given carelessly. There is a distinctly negative view of furriers and the fur trade.
Positive Role Models
The heroine and hero are always admirable -- upstanding, charitable, honest, and brave. The villains are vicious, amoral, and greedy – evil on a grand scale. One is an accident-prone fellow who stutters and ultimately is repentant.
Violence & Scariness
Almost nonstop exaggerated, cartoon-style action. Puppies, as well as adult dogs, are frequently on the brink of disaster: falling from high places, jumping onto a moving train, threatened with knives, carried away on balloons, etc. Humans are crushed, pummeled, drowned in cake batter, sent into a fiery oven, bitten by dogs, run over, thrown through windows, fall into a toilet, and more. Villains shriek, cackle, grimace, and threaten, with their scary faces often seen in close-up.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
One shot of a model in a fur bikini. A young couple falls in love, share a few chaste kisses.
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Lots of insults like "idiot," and "bird-brain." One use of "hell."
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Products & Purchases
Scenes are set on The Orient Express. There are multiple Disney trailers on the DVD, including an invitation to join a Disney rewards program.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Cruella uses her dramatic cigarette holder and smokes in several scenes. There is a toast, and champagne is poured.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that 102 Dalmatians is the sequel to the live-action 101 Dalmatians released in 2000, and it has a good many scenes of comic jeopardy to both dogs and humans. Kids who are comfortable with larger-than-life danger, cackling villains, and puppies being stuffed into burlap bags (all accompanied by suspenseful music) should have no problem discerning that nothing is real. But for younger or more sensitive little ones, it could be scary. The central story involves Cruella De Vil's attempts to dognap puppies, kill them, and make a fur coat out of their pelts. She's an iconic villain and there's no end to the absurd mayhem she and her partners-in-crime cause. A few scenes show Cruella smoking; she proposes a toast with a silver goblet; celebratory champagne is poured on another occasion. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
102 Dalmatians is better than the first live-action version, though still not as good as the original 1961 animated classic, 101 Dalmatians. Other than Cruella, the human characters are bland. And in the live-action versions, the dogs don't talk so they're harder to connect with as characters. That leaves us with not much more than a plot that is already very familiar (Cruella takes dogs, dogs get rescued) along with a great villain, cute puppies, and sensational costumes. Although there are some sweet moments and a satisfyingly silly comeuppance for Cruella, the movie is slow going -- in fact, the credit sequence is livelier than the movie itself. In a particularly poor choice, there is a scene in which the dogs watch a video of Lady and the Tramp, enjoying the "Bella Note" scene while Chloe and Kevin, out on a date, share a plate of spaghetti. It may be intended to induce nostalgia and a sense of connection, but what it induces instead is regret that we're watching this movie instead of that one.
Kids may find parts of the movie confusing, like the brief scenes with Dr. Pavlov, who explains that he has cured Cruella with behavior modification, and her subsequent relapse, triggered by a clock chime. One of the dalmatian puppies has no spots, and is named Oddball. As we expect, she feels bad about being different and then proves her worth. But this mild little message is undercut by having her then develop spots as a part of the happy ending.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.