Rubado column: 'Cruella' a fresh feeling in Disney's rut of live-action remakes

The following is an opinion column written by an Echo Press editorial staff member. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press.

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Jared Rubado

Disney found its new source of big revenue and it’s coming in the form of live-action remakes.

Children's movies are mostly thought of as animated classics that range back as far as the 1940s. Movies such as “Dumbo,” “Lady and the Tramp” and “Pinocchio” are never in consideration for anyone’s best animated movies, but they’re respected as trailblazing projects that have stood the test of time.

Another series of films in that saga is “101 Dalmatians.” Created in 1961, it inspired sequels, spinoffs and now a prequel.

“Cruella” is Disney’s latest live-action remake of its older films. Starring academy award winning Emma Stone, “Cruella” is an origin story of how one of Disney’s most infamous villains came to be. I don't feel like I need to explain the backstory of a renowned kid’s movie made 50 years ago. If you’re unfamiliar with Cruella Devil and “101 Dalmatians,” you can check it out.

If you ask the casual moviegoer “What’s the biggest problem with new movies?” The answer is going to be unoriginality more often than not. I think it’s an issue, but it’s overblown. That line of thinking is often used as a scapegoat for lack of interest rather than people admitting they would rather watch comfortable classics than spend $30 at the theater for an unknown result.


But in some cases, those people are also right. There are remakes that are completely unnecessary and are made solely for the purpose of cash-grabbing. The best example of this is the 2019 “Lion King."

The original “Lion King” is at or near the top of almost everyone’s best animated movies rankings. It’s the definition of a classic, and it will always be that. Disney decided to pump millions of dollars into a live-action “Lion King” that got a ton of Oscar buzz early on with cast members such as Beyonce, Donald Glover and James Earl Jones.

Where it fell flat was in the script. And by that, I mean they used almost the exact same script as the 1998 film. I left the theater extremely underwhelmed with the lack of originality to an old story, as did many others. It’s not like it was a bad time, but it was a massive missed opportunity to show creativity.

Disney releases these remakes a couple of times a year, and the latest is “Cruella.” I’m comfortable saying this was the most enjoyable remake Disney has made so far.

I wouldn’t say it’s the best. That crown is currently held by “The Jungle Book” made in 2016. But I had a blast catching “Cruella” in theaters because it took a completely new approach to an old story.

It has its problems on the written and technical sides of things. It’s far from perfect, but Emma Stone and Emma Thompson were brilliant on screen. It reminded me a lot of what the “Aladdin” remake did with the genie character, played by Will Smith. It was different, funny and refreshing. That same sentiment can be said about Cruella Devil.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it every time I break down a movie for kids: This film was not made for me. It’s made for young teenagers and children to have a good time at the theater. I thought this was as edgy as a kid’s movie could get without crossing any lines. I would recommend “Cruella” to any family looking to spend a couple hours at the theater.

This film also excels in the soundtrack. It took a punk-rock approach to a story about high fashion. I loved the way it integrated great music to help set the tone in important scenes.


I rated ‘Cruella” 86/100. I don’t know how much time it has left in theaters, but it’s a perfect movie for a family night when it hits streaming on Disney+.

Jared Rubado is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus. He moved to the area in September of 2021 after covering sports for the Alexandria Echo Press for nearly three years. Jared graduated from the University of Augustana in 2018 with degrees in journalism and sports managment.
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