101 Dalmatians (1996)

image for 101 Dalmatians (1996)

Short takes

Not suitable under 6; parental guidance to 7 (frequent slapstick violence, mild coarse language, scary characters)

classification logo

This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for 101 Dalmatians (1996)
  • a review of 101 Dalmatians (1996) completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 29 May 2024.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 6 Not suitable due to frequent slapstick violence, mild coarse language and scary characters.
Children aged 6–7 Parental guidance recommended due to frequent slapstick violence, mild coarse language and scary characters.
Children aged 8 and over Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: 101 Dalmatians (1996)
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: The content is very mild in impact
Length: 103 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Computer game developer Roger (Jeff Daniels) and fashion designer Anita (Joely Richardson) have three things in common: They both live in London, they are single, and they both own a Dalmatian. As their paths cross one day, for Roger's Dalmatian Pongo and Anita's Dalmatian Lady Perdita, it's love at first sight and the two dogs take initiative to introduce their owners to each other. Luckily for the love-struck Dalmatians, Roger and Anita also fall in love, and soon get married. Everyone is excited when they find out that both Anita and Perdita are expecting. When Perdita has 15 adorable Dalmatian puppies, their happiness is complete. But not for long: Anita's remorseless boss, Cruella de Vil (Glenn Close), is obsessed with the idea of having an outfit made from Dalmatian puppy fur. After an unsuccessful attempt to buy the puppies from Roger and Anita, Cruella hires two henchmen, Jasper (Hugh Laurie) and Horace (Mark Williams), to "dog-nap" them, along with every other Dalmatian puppy in London. As the police seem unable to solve the crime and locate the missing puppies, Pongo and Perdita team up with other dogs and animals in the neighbourhood, determined to save their puppies from evil Cruella having them turned into a fashionable coat.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Live action remake of Classic Disney animation; Family; Adventure; Crime-solving; Teamwork; Animal Cruelty.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some inferred and depicted violence in this movie, including:

  • Cruella de Vil truly earns her name – She is as cruel and remorseless as the Devil himself. The viewer learns that she had a white tiger stolen from the zoo, skinned and turned into a blanket; she wants to have the puppies killed and is not short of ideas of how to kill them (shoot them, drown them, poison them, bash them on the head, chloroform); and she tries to capture puppies using a pitchfork. She is visibly excited about the prospect of the puppies dying and being skinned.
  • Cruella is seen revealing the fur coat of the killed Siberian tiger mentioned in the start of the film. This skin still has the head of the tiger attached, and she puppeteers the mouth of the tiger.
  • The two henchmen break into the home of Anita and Roger, violently manhandling Nanny before shoving her into a closet and locking it so they can ‘dognap’ the puppies.
  • Frequent slapstick and comedy violence: the animals play several tricks on the nasty and rather clumsy henchmen Jasper and Horace, who slip, fall over, hit their heads, get shocked and thrown off an electric fence, have their car catch on fire, get bitten and nearly freeze after falling into a pond.
  • Cruella gets kicked by a horse, which sends her flying for several metres, and she repeatedly gets covered in dung and sewage.
  • Anita hits roger Roger in the head with a handbag filled with bricks.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Cruella de Vil is a creepy, mad and loud character, who yells a lot and laughs maniacally.
  • Cruella’s entrances are often accompanied by sudden and loud noises, such as a thunderstorm or a drastic change in soundtrack.
  • Cruella's accomplice ‘Mr Skinner’, a taxidermist, is a very dark and scary-looking fellow, and the viewer learns that an animal nearly ripped his throat out, leaving him severely scarred and breathing heavily. He has a suitcase full of scalpels and other equipment that he uses to skin animals.
  • Mr Skinner’s warehouse has many dead animals and skeletons.
  • There is a lot of remorseless talking about killing and skinning animals.
  • There are many instances of near or presumed death, with one of the henchmen appearing to freeze to death and Cruella’s car exploding in a video game. Furthermore, the henchmen’s car catches on fire, and Roger narrowly avoids hitting cars and trucks while being pulled dangerously by Pongo.
  • Cruella looks scary when she emerges, screaming, from a vat of sticky molasses, looking like a monster rather than a human.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Cruella’s henchmen are seen spying and stalking Roger, Anita and the Dalmatians.
  • There is a newborn puppy on screen that is thought to be dead (who is later revived by Roger).
  • Lucky, one of the puppies, is left behind in Cruella’s mansion. Lucky is cornered and about to be skinned, before getting rescued by another dog.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

  • Nothing further noted.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Dr Pepper is shown during the meeting for Roger’s first video game pitch.
  • Jasper and Horace drive a Ford truck, with frequent close-ups of the Ford logo.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • The two henchmen jump over an electric fence and land on it, electrocuting their private parts.
  • Roger checks the genitals of Perdita in the park after confusing her for Pongo.
  • When meeting with ‘the Skinner’, Horace claims that, “the sight of all these deceased creatures gives me a shrinky winky”.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Anita and Roger kiss on a couch and lay down as the camera pans away from them.
  • Cruella wears slightly revealing outfits.
  • Roger and Anita kiss.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Cruella is hardly ever seen without a cigarette in a holder.
  • Jasper is seen finishing a beer, with possibly empty beer bottles on a table nearby.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Idiots! Stinky lab rat!
  • Stupid, pathetic fools!
  • Bloody mongrels!
  • You filthy beast!
  • Morons!
  • Unintelligent
  • Imbeciles
  • Devil.
  • Threatening language, such as, “I’ll hit you”, “kill the little beasts”.

In a nutshell

101 Dalmatians (1996) is a live action remake of Disney's 1961 animated classic. Slightly adapted to fit modern times, the film is otherwise a close adaptation of the original, offering families fast-paced action and adventure, with Glenn Close making a very convincing villain. Frequent references to animal cruelty, frequent slapstick / comedy violence, scary characters and coarse language make the film unsuitable for a very young audience and warrant parental guidance for children aged 6 and 7.

The main messages from this movie are that sometimes in life it is important to take initiative; and that you can achieve more as part of a team and together with friends.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Teamwork
  • Being clever and resourceful
  • Protecting one's family.
  • Community.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Remorseless behaviour.
  • Cruelty.
  • Selfishness.
  • The impacts and ethics of animal cruelty and using animal pelts for fashion.
  • Taking criminal actions.
  • Herbert, a child video game reviewer says, “Even girls won’t like this game”. This sends a sexist message that girls have worse taste or standards towards video games.