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Movie Mom

December 25, 1996

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Nell Minow, The Movie Mom (TM), has viewed the media with a critical eye at least since she was in third grade, when her father made headlines throughout the country by calling television a "vast wasteland" as President Kennedy's Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Now the mother of Benjamin (age 13) and Rachel (10), she reviews current theatrical releases and recommends new cand classic videos for families to watch together. Her book, The Movie Mom's Guide to Family Movies, will be published by Avon in the summer of 1997.

Now here's Movie Mom's review:

101 Dalmatians (1996)

G rated, but with a lot of "comic" violence, some potty humor, characters in peril, and a scary villainess, recommended for ages 5 and up.

Fans of the animated classic will enjoy this colorful live-action remake, but will come away thinking that the original is still the best. Once again, dalmatians Pongo and Perdita bring together their human companions, Roger (in this version an unsuccessful computer game creator) and Anita (a designer for the fashion house headed by Cruella De Vil). Jeff Daniels and Joely Richardson are perfectly pleasant as Roger and Anita, as is Joan Plowright as Nanny, but the audience is there to see Cruella (played to the hilt by Glenn Close) and all those darling spotted puppies.

Cruella's henchmen capture Pongo's and Perdita's 15 puppies and 84 more, so she can use their fur to make a coat. With the help of animal friends, including sheep, birds, a horse and an accommodating skunk, Pongo and Perdita save the puppies, and the day, as Cruella and her dim-witted henchme n are subjected to a series of "Home Alone"-style booby traps. (It is not a coincidence that the producer/screenwriter is "Home Alone's" John Hughes.) Parents -- and some kids -- may find the mayhem too violent, even by cartoon standards. The dogs do not talk to each other, as they do in the animated version, which makes their characters less distinctive and involving, and their point of view is sorely missed. But the story is still appealing, the Disney art direction is still spectacular, and the puppies are adorable.

My Rating = Two Stars

Movie Mom can be reached directly at nminow@lens-inc.com.
To see more of Movie Mom's reviews, visit The Movie Mom's Guide to Family Movies and Videos
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