The following contains spoilers for Disney's Cruella. Cruella is the newest entry in the quite-successful Disney concept of turning animated classics of yesterday into live-action box office powerhouses of today. This time around, rather than getting a straight remake, we get an origin story for one of Disney's big villains, Cruella de Vil. The movie is, perhaps a little surprisingly, actually really good, and anybody looking for a dark hero's journey will probably enjoy it, but Disney fans especially will find a great deal to appreciate in the form of Easter eggs.
Because Cruella is an origin story, it's not surprising that several of the characters introduced in the movie beyond simply Cruella are major players in 101 Dalmatians. Everybody from Horace and Jasper to Roger and Anita, and even the first two of the titular 101 dalmatians appear in the film, but beyond these overt connections there are a few less obvious references to the original Disney film in the new one. Here are a few of them.
101 Dalmations Scene: Dogs And Their Owners
Dogs are certainly a big part of Cruella. Estella/Cruella has a dog of her own in the film, as does Horace. And of course, the Baroness has three fairly vicious dalmatians. But another dog appears very briefly in a scene that's a direct reference to the opening of the animated 101 Dalmatians.. Horace and Jasper are in their van and Horace spies a woman with a large, long-haired dog, and the woman herself is dressed not unlike her dog.
The scene is a call back to a scene at the beginning of animated film where Pongo the dalmatian is looking out the window trying to find a good perspective mate, for both himself and his "pet" Roger. A number of women and dogs walk past the window, and each pair bear a striking resemblance to each other, including the duo in the image above, who look remarkably like the pair seen in Cruella.
Cruella De Vil And The Famous 'Anita, Darling' Line
Of the various 101 Dalmatians characters who appear in Cruella, one of the most important is Anita. In 101 Dalmatians, it's mentioned that Anita and Cruella de Vil were friends in school, and that's exactly the relationship we see early in the film. As adults, the pair reconnect when Anita is writing for a fashion-focused magazine as Estella/Cruella is entering the fashion world. Anita herself isn't an Easter egg, she's just a character in the film, but there is a hidden meaning in her name.
Anita is never given her own last name in 101 Dalmatians. Once Roger and Anita are married her last name is Radcliffe, but we never learn what her maiden name was. In Cruella, we learn that her name is Anita Darling, which seems like it could be a reference to another Disney movie, Peter Pan, but it's actually referencing the way that Cruella de Vil refers to Anita in Cruella's very first scene. She calls her old school chum "Antia, darling," so here it seems that screenwriters Dana Fox and Tony McNamara, have simply retconned that scene a bit to imply that Cruella was actually calling her friend by her full name, Anita Darling.
Dogs (And People) Also Love Television In Cruella
101 Dalmatians is a weird movie in many ways but one of the things that's really odd about it is just how much time is spent watching television. We see scenes where both dogs and people, and dogs with people, all spend time in front of the small screen watching various shows. The dalmatians themselves enjoy watching an action-adventure series about a heroic dog called Thunderbolt, while Horace and Jasper watch a crime-themed game show called What's My Crime? The puppies are also kept docile while in captivity thanks to television.
And the same thing happens in Cruella after they kidnap some dalmatians in that movie too. Horace is a fan of watching soccer in the live-action film rather than game shows, but it turns out that the dogs also like watching the games. Keeping the dogs locked up is something of a problem until they discover that TV keeps the dogs calm, so they just sit on the couch and watch it all.
The Nod To Another Live-Action Cruella De Vil
One would certainly expect Cruella to include references to 101 Dalmatians, but there have been other live-action adaptations of these characters before, and Cruella certainly doesn't forget about them. Glenn Close played Cruella de Vil twice in the 1990s, in a live-action version of 101 Dalmatians and in a sequel. Cruella pays homage to the de Vil that came before through an epic costume look.
Near the end of the film, Cruella's master plan involves being able to infiltrate the Baroness' party by getting every woman in attendance to dress as Cruella, as a memorial. However, the look that most of the women are sporting doesn't actually look all that much like Emma Stone's Cruella de Vil up to that point in the film. Instead, it much more closely resembles Glenn Close's look when she played the same character 25 years ago.
The Baroness And Her Hellman Hall Connection
The Baroness is never officially given a name in Cruella, she's only ever simply called The Baroness. However, since she lives in Hellman Hall, then clearly her last name, the last name of the Baron she married, was Hellman. We see Hellman Hall several times throughout Cruella, and those that know 101 Dalmatians will know that the name Hellman is designed specifically to make reference to what the hall will eventually be known as.
At the end of the movie Hellman Hall is no longer a hidden reference, it's a clear statement, as Cruella removes the last three letters of the hall's name from the sign out front, officially renaming it Hell Hall, which what the building is called when we see it in 101 Dalmatians.
The great thing about Easter eggs is that they're not actually important. People watching the movie with no frame of reference don't realize the thing they're seeing has context and so it doesn't impact their viewing of the thing. it's just a little something extra for those in the know. And perhaps, after watching Cruella, some will now go back and watch 101 Dalmatians and catch the references they missed.