101 Dalmations begins with the story of Pongo, perennial bachelor Dalmation, and his human, perennial bachelor and songwriter, Roger. Although happy in their life together, Pongo longs for a mate and would like to see Roger have one as well. When he spies a lovely spotted lass and her equally attractive human counterpart, he tricks Roger into an early walk in the park and literally pushes the two humans together. Roger and Anita, plus Pongo and Perdita, soon wed and begin their life of blissful matrimony. Before long, puppies are on the way and what would be a happy occasion turns frighteningly bad as an old school chum of Anita's comes over to inquire about the puppies. Cruella De Vil, a terrifying sight in and of herself, is an ardent lover of furs and just shows a bit too much interest in the upcoming litter of pups. A tall, thin woman with protruding cheekbones and hipbones to match and a slash of red lipstick across an evil smile, she is as scary now as she was 45+ years ago when she first emerged on the Disney scene.
When the puppies are born, all 15 of them mind you, Cruella shows up at the door. Roger stands up to her for once and tells her they are keeping all of the puppies. Of course, Cruella vows revenge. Soon thereafter, the puppies are dog-napped by a couple of bumbling crooks, Horace and Jasper, and its up to Pongo and Perdie to solve the mystery. They rely on the "Twilight Bark" to get the message out about the missing puppies. But when they finally locate their missing children at Hell Hall, property owned by none other than the De Vil family, they find not 15 puppies, but 99! When they discover the real reason behind Cruella's purchase and theft of the various dogs, to make Dalmation coats from them all, they vow to rescue every one of the pups. What follows is a harrowing journey back to London, 101 Dalmations trekking across the freezing landscape, trying to avoid being spotted by Horace, Jasper and Cruella, and what a nail-biter it is!
When I said this was a treasure trove, I didn't mean it lightly. Not only are there several interactive games for the kiddies such as training your own virtual puppy (which won't hold any interest for adults, however), but you've also got a new music video for the Cruella De Vil theme song by Selena Gomez (Disney Channel regular), deleted songs, and pop-up trivia, both for serious fans and for kids, that pops up while the movie plays to clue you in to all sorts of inside info. One of the most endearing featurettes was the written correspondence between Walt Disney and Dodie Smith, author of The One Hundred and One Dalmations book. Apparently, they kept up quite a friendship over the years, hoping to eventually collaborate on another movie, which sadly never happened. Their letters to one another are read aloud, with scenes of actors portraying the pair as they wrote to one another. It's quite charming. There's also a featurette on the creation and design of Cruella, one of the best female villains of all time, and a making-of featurette on the animated film itself. Disney was always an innovator, but apparently this film caused quite a row between Walt and the animators he relied upon. Walt was upset because this film used a lot of Xeroxed images for the animation instead of the hand-lined animation he was so accustomed to. Watching these masters at work is a treat for any Disney fan or follower of animation in general.
This is must-buy stuff. You'll easily watch the film three times just to see the remastered stand-alone film, then the pop-up trivia in both flavors (which each contain different trivia facts). Disney has outdone themselves again and I can't wait to see what the magical Disney vault reveals in the upcoming year.