Cruella Star Pushes Back Against Critics Who Call Movie Too Dark & Edgy

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Cruella star Paul Thomas Hauser dismisses critics calling the film too dark for children saying, “You’re not watching dogs getting made into coats.”

Cruella star Paul Thomas Hauser responds to film reviews criticizing the new Disney film for being too dark. In the film, the actor plays the character of Horace, a long-time friend and ally to Stone’s Cruella. The recently released movie explores the origin story of the titular villain Cruella de Vil (Emma Stone) in London during the 1970s. The iconic antagonist was first introduced in a 1956 children’s novel called The Hundred and One Dalmatians. A few years later, Disney famously adapted the source material into a popular animated film of the same name. In 1996, a live-action film titled 101 Dalmatians featured Glenn Close as the campy and ruthless villain.

Upon its debut, Cruella has received notable praise for Stone’s casting. Many critics have applauded her whimsical and edgy turn as the memorable villain, acknowledging that her attempts to add a spiky depth to the character help anchor the narrative. At the same time, overall reviews remain mixed, with reviewers calling out the film’s muddled and meandering plot. Although rated PG-13, some viewers have also criticized the movie for its bleak origins, citing worries that it might lean too heavily into threatening themes unsuitable for children.

While speaking to Insider, Hauser reacted to criticism condemning the film for its darker subject matter. During his interview, he dismissed claims that the movie was inappropriate for certain audiences. Here, he deconstructed his understanding of the film:

“People getting riled up that it’s an edgy and dark movie: No, it’s not. You’re not watching dogs getting made into coats. It’s an action-adventure-crime-comedy movie with a lot of heart and if you don’t like Emma Stone and Emma Thompson you should probably get your pulse checked.”

In the past few years, Disney has invested in a number of live-action remakes of beloved animated films. These projects have ultimately culminated in a varied response from viewers and critics alike. When Cruella was first announced, some critics slammed the decision to seemingly humanize a villain who mercilessly sought to skin puppies for a fashionable accessory piece. Alluding to the narrative woes of the 2014 film Maleficent, they noted that not all Disney antagonists deserve to have their murderous actions justified with a sympathetic backstory. Some characters are just evil.

Despite these concerns, Cruella has maintained a steady hold at the box office. Moreover, both Stone and Emma Thompson have shared their interest in a possible sequel exploring the rivalry between their two characters. Tellingly, the prequel centers more on Cruella’s attempts to get revenge on her own archenemy rather than an obsession with killing Dalmatian puppies and showing off a coat made of dog fur. Whether or not a future sequel would dare touch such a sinister narrative in real life remains to be seen.