The 17th animated Disney classic is a less ambitious film comparing to earlier top Disney classics, but it is enjoyable enough anyway.
"Sleeping Beauty" nearly bankrupted the Disney studio. Perhaps because of this and also because other extremely expensive Disney classics were initially a failure, the Disney studio needed to make cheaper animated films in a try to recover financial costs. This one is cheaper and more simple in everything: story, designs, sceneries/backgrounds, colors, picture quality, characters, etc...
It certainly doesn't have "that" magic and attention to detail which makes Disney so legendary, but it doesn't deserve to be judged too hardly. It isn't Disney at its worst, very far from that! The animation is great as usual on Disney and this one also has lots of fun, entertainment, danger, adventure, darkness, classic humor and even some touching and depressing moments. The happy ending is another sign that it follows the Disney tradition.
Although the artwork is way cheaper-looking than in the most artistic Disney tales, is still in a good and acceptable level in many ways. It is basically the same artstyle we see in "The Sword in the Stone" and "The Jungle Book", for example. Simple and not extraordinary, but not as poor-looking as in "Oliver & Company". Just for the record, I consider "One Hundred and One Dalmatians" a better movie than "Oliver & Company", "The Jungle Book" and "The Sword in the Stone".
However, there is one thing which the artwork of this movie is brilliant: a brief scene which we can see the sparkling stars at night, with an impressing resemblance to the fabulous artwork of the best Disney classic ever, "Pinocchio".
The characters are very enjoyable in general. The most enjoyable are Roger, the Colonel, Sargent Tibs, Pongo, Perdita and those adorable 99 dalmatian puppies. All of the puppies are adorable.
By the way, the first time I saw dalmatians was in this movie. I didn't know that dog breed before, but ever since then they became one of my favorite dog breeds. They're such cute spotty dogs! I love dalmatians since I was a kid.
Returning to the conversation about the characters, Cruella DeVil isn't one of my favorite Disney villains and I personally don't consider her one of Disney's best villains, but she's one of the most eccentric and original. I like her red car, nevertheless. She's got a beautiful and fine automobile! Jasper and Horace are Cruella's sidekicks and they are funny in many moments. They are just as cruel and heartless as Cruella, but more comical. There are several hilarious moments with these two guys. It's so funny how the dalmatians (with the help of other animals) make their lives miserable, considering that they definitely deserve it. This only accents the comical effect.
Pongo, Roger, the Colonel and Sargent Tibs are equally humorous characters. In fact, Sargent Tibs (the cat) has always been one of my favorite characters from this movie. He's funny, smart, clever, well-mannered and cool.
This movie takes place in England. It takes us not only to London, but also to other places that must be not very far from London... or maybe they are. But wherever they are, those are all nice places, at least judging by the movie's perspective.
About the soundtrack, it is generally great too. "Cruella DeVil" is a delightful song (a perfect song for Cruella DeVil, describing her in perfection). "Dalmatian Plantation" is a catchy one. "Kanine Kruchies Jingle" is a lovely and cute song.
"One Hundred and One Dalmatians" had a "remake" in 1996, but as a live-action version. The live-action version/remake has amazing similarities to the animated version, being very faithful to it. Although the live-action version is okay, I rather the animated version with its simple and old-fashioned charm.
Overall, a charming Disney classic which might not be their best, but deserves its attention too. It also features the voice talents of many well-known Disney artists.
This should definitely be on Top 250.