26 Movies Like Cruella (2021) (Page 2)

Staff & contributors

Animated in every sense of the word, The Mitchells vs. the Machines is a fun and lively watch for anyone of any age. On the surface, it’s about a tech company’s AI going haywire as it turns against humans and takes over the world (an obvious and much-deserved dig at Big Tech). It also immediately stands out as an energetic and inventive film bursting with love for the animation genre.

But at its core, it's about family and learning to love them even and especially when the going gets tough. Teenager Katie and her father Rick are at that precarious moment in their relationship where everything they do seems to annoy the other, while Katie's mother Linda tries and fails and tries again to keep the peace. The Mitchells are filled with love, but they’re not quite sure how to express it to each other, and it's both funny and relatable how it takes a literal apocalypse for them to realize that. This is a family story elevated by dynamic animation and a bizarro storyline. Expect it to go off the rails in the best possible way.

Genre: Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Drama

Actor: Abbi Jacobson, Adam Wylie, Alex Hirsch, Alison Rich, Andrew Morgado, Ashley Peldon, Beck Bennett, Blake Griffin, Caitlin McKenna, Charlyne Yi, Chrissy Teigen, Conan O'Brien, Danny McBride, Doug Nicholas, Elle Mills, Eric André, Fred Armisen, Greg Levitan, Grey DeLisle, Griffin McElroy, Illya Owens, Jay Pharoah, Jeff Rowe, Jim Pirri, John Legend, Juan Pacheco, Justin Shenkarow, Lex Lang, Lisa Wilhoit, Madeleine McGraw, Maya Rudolph, Melissa Sturm, Michael Rianda, Michelle Ruff, Mike Rianda, Natalia del Riego, Natalie Canizares, Olivia Colman, Sasheer Zamata, Shane Sweet, Todd Hansen, Will Allegra, Zeno Robinson

Director: Jeff Rowe, Michael Rianda, Mike Rianda

Rating: PG

In the Mexican film A Cop Movie, director Alonso Ruizpalacios mixes fact and fiction, documentary and narrative, to tell the tale of Teresa and Montoya, two police officers whose dreams are dashed by the corruption of their trade and who, eventually, find love and comfort in each other.

Ruizpalacios takes thrilling risks in structuring this genre-bending story—cutting stories into parts, jumping back and forth between the harrowingly real and captivatingly non-real. For all the experimental maneuvers he makes, however, the through-line is always Teresa and Montoya: particularly, their love for each other and for an institution that should have, in an ideal world, supported them and the people they vowed to protect. 

To its credit, instead of merely humanizing the controversial police force, A Cop Movie adds some much-needed nuance to the big picture. At the end of the day, they’re no different than any other underpaid laborers working desperately to make end meets. A Cop Movie doesn’t gloss over the fact that the police, like so many other workers, are stuck in a rotten system that’s long overdue for a major overhauling. 

Genre: Action, Crime, Documentary, Drama, Thriller

Actor: Leonardo Alonso, Mónica Del Carmen, Olivia Lagunas, Raúl Briones

Director: Alonso Ruizpalacios

Rating: R

Dear Ex is a family drama that explores LGBT+ issues in contemporary Taiwan. As much as it is a movie about how people cope with loss, it’s a powerful, heartwarming, and intimate portrait of the relationship between Jay and Song Zhengyuan and all the obstacles they face.

While the themes of Dear Ex are heavy, the director makes the viewing experience easier for the audience thanks to humorous and witty dialogue. Meanwhile, the history between Jay and Song Zhengyuan’s relationship unfolds in a very beautiful, almost poetic way, and by the end of the movie, we understand that everyone gets their own kind of forgiveness. The way the characters effortlessly show that love is something beyond genders is admirable, and it is great to see how everyone gets their own kind of forgiveness whether it's from themselves or from others by the end of the movie.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Ai-Lun Kao, Clover Kao, Danny Liang, Fang Wan, Hsieh Ying Shiuan, Hsieh Ying-xuan, Hsin-Ling Chung, Hsu Chih-yen, Joseph Huang, Mag Hsu, Ping-Ya Tai, Roy Chiu, Spark Chen, Ting-Chien Wu, Wanfang, Yang Li-yin, Ying-Xuan Hsieh

Director: Chih-Yen Hsu, Hsu Chih-yen, Mag Hsu

Rating: TV-MA

Palmer may not be treading new ground, but it does tackle relevant themes with impressive sensitivity. With Palmer (Justin Timberlake), it reveals the stigma that haunts ex-convicts well after they’ve redeemed themselves. And with Sam (a charming Ryder Allen), it brings to light the heartbreaking and often dangerous bigotry queer children face. These are heavy issues, but Palmer takes them on with the utmost care and compassion. Though it reads cheesy at times, the sweetness is a welcome note considering the more tragic turns narratives like this tend to take. Empathetic and hopeful, Palmer is a pleasant enough film about second chances and found families.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Alisha Wainwright, Carson Minniear, Charmin Lee, Craig Sheffer, Dane Rhodes, Dean Winters, Fisher Stevens, Hero Hunter, J.D. Evermore, Jake Brennan, Jesse C. Boyd, June Squibb, Juno Temple, Justin Timberlake, Lance E. Nichols, Molly Sue Harrison, Nicholas X. Parsons, Ray Gaspard, Ryder Allen, Stacie Davis, Stephen Louis Grush, Theodus Crane, Wynn Everett

Director: Fisher Stevens

Rating: R

While most media outlets would rather talk about Taylor Swift’s love life and never-ending feuds, the fact remains that Swift is a dedicated artist. She’s a prolific songstress and an astute writer, and regardless of what you think of her, it’s always a treat to see someone with that much passion and talent delve deep into their craft. 

This is precisely what she does in Folklore. Between cozy conversations with co-producers and rustic live sessions, Swift lets her guard down to reveal how she works on each song, from the backstory to the melody. The result is a mesmerizing documentary about how Swift spent the secluded year of 2020 working on a record that would go on to win Album of the Year at the Grammys. 

Genre: Documentary, Drama, Music

Actor: Aaron Dessner, Jack Antonoff, Justin Vernon, Taylor Swift

Director: Taylor Swift

Rating: TV-14

The Witch hardly reinvents the thriller wheel. In fact, part of the fun in watching it is calling out the cliches. Cold-blooded villain? Check. Antihero who defies death? Check. Senseless, bloody killings for minutes on end? Check, check, check. The Witch has everything you'd expect from an action movie, and yet, the viewing experience is all the better for it. 

By trimming all the unnecessary fat and zeroing in on the action, director Park Hoon-jung delivers a no-nonsense, no-holds-barred film that could hold a candle to the John Wick franchise. Like those films, the movements here are sharp and the gore relentless. The only difference is that The Witch is led by a teenage girl—seemingly flimsy but deliciously deranged, Kim-Dami is magnetic in her breakout role as the titular witch Ja-yoon. It's also a bit like Stranger Things in that sense, but comparisons aside, The Witch stands out as a razor-edged entry into the genre. 

Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller

Actor: Baek Seung-chul, Cho Min-soo, Choi Jung-woo, Choi Woo-shik, Chung Ye-jin, Da-Eun, Go Min-si, Hyun Bong-sik, Jeong Da-eun, Kim Byeong-Ok, Kim Byung-ok, Kim Da-mi, Kim Ha-na, Ko Min-si, Kwon Tae-won, Lee Ju-won, Lee Ki-young, Lee Si-hoon, Oh Mi-hee, Park Hee-soon, Park Hoon-jung, Seung-chul Baek, Song Hyeong-su, Woo Min-kyu, Woo-sik Choi, Yeo Moo-yeong

Director: Hoon-jung Park, Park Hoon-jung

Rating: Not Rated, R

With a forest home destroyed, leaving an adorable cat spirit child displaced, The Legend of Hei seemed like a Studio Ghibli-esque tale, at least in themes, child protagonist, and fantasy flying. There’s charming moments where Hei appreciates the day-to-day– moments where he diligently learns his powers, enjoys the simple human pleasures present in the modern world, and of course, feels at home in the stunning natural spirit places. However, it’s not quite Ghibli as there are plenty of wuxia-inspired fight scenes, with as many flying kicks involved. That being said, there is a pro-peace message here, that at face value, is probably a good message for children, but this film’s peace comes without clear details about Hei’s displacement, or the general condition of the spirit world at large. The Legend of Hei’s charming animation is lovely, but this push for peace could have been more meaningful if it also considered justice.

Genre: Action, Animation, Fantasy

Actor: Chen Siyu, Ding Dang, Hao Xianghai, Li Lu, Liu Mingyue, Shan Xin, Sheng Feng, Wang Youji, Yang Ning, Yeqiao Yan, Yuntu Cao

Director: MTJJ, Mtjj Mutou

Rating: PG

In many ways, the 1998 film The Truman Show forecasted how we’d interact with media today. Parasocial relationships are a thing, as is the feeling of entitlement we get when prying into other people’s lives. But before all that, Japanese TV producers were already testing the ethical limits of voyeurism through the reality show Denpa Shōnen, a social experiment of sorts that broadcasted how people would react in extreme situations. It was one of the first of its kind, and so The Contestant takes us through its novelty; smartly, it explains how and why a show so brutal was a massive hit. It tries to understand Japanese media and humor, not other it, while also sympathizing with Nasubi, who sits down for an enlightening interview. The documentary itself is revealing and disturbing—except for a confusing third act, in which it completely loses its critical air and tells a story of heroism that, while inspiring, feels detached from the rest of the film. What was the aftermath of all that cruelty? Did no one file a retroactive complaint? Is Japanese media still this intense and unwittingly cruel? These are things you’d expect the documentary would tackle by the end, but it confusingly doesn’t. Still, it’s an important and educational watch, one that hopefully serves as a cautionary tale against the ever-manipulative media and always-hungry viewer.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Fred Armisen, Nasubi, Takehiro Hira, Toshio Tsuchiya

Director: Clair Titley

Rating: R

The 1868 semi-autobiographical novels of Louisa May Alcott have been adapted into film, television and theatre so many times: 6 movies, 4 TV shows, even a broadway musical. It’s a compelling story to watch as it unfolds, and it’s easy to see why many hold this one as the best adaptation of the novels. For one, the cast is top-notch and perfect for the roles: Christian Bale as Laurie, Susan Sarandon as Mrs. March, and Winona Ryder, Trini Alvarado, Claire Danes and a very young Kirsten Dunst as the four sisters. Little Women is the story of these four girls living in post-civil war America. We watch them grow together, find love, have their little fights, and try to find their place in the world. Everything from the costumes and settings to the dialogue do an excellent job of conveying the heartwarming story and the emotional impact behind it.

Genre: Drama, Family, Romance

Actor: A.J. Unger, Alan Robertson, Andrea Libman, Bethoe Shirkoff, Beverley Elliott, Billie Pleffer, Cameron Labine, Christian Bale, Christine Lippa, Claire Danes, Corrie Clark, Dale Resteghini, Daniel Olsen, David Adams, Demetri Goritsas, Donal Logue, Eric Bruno Borgman, Eric Stoltz, Florence Paterson, Gabriel Byrne, Heather Feeney, James Leard, Janet Craig, Janie Woods-Morris, Janne Mortil, Jay Brazeau, John Neville, Kate Robbins, Kirsten Dunst, Mar Andersons, Marco Roy, Marilyn Norry, Mary Wickes, Matthew Walker, Michele Goodger, Peter Haworth, Rebecca Toolan, Samantha Mathis, Sarah Strange, Scott Bellis, Susan Sarandon, Tegan Moss, Trini Alvarado, Winona Ryder

Director: Gillian Armstrong

Rating: G, PG

Big George Foreman ticks all the boxes of what a biopic should be. It shows us his troubled childhood, his bumpy rise to the top, and his eventual reconciliation with fame and boxing. It’s also nicely shot and polished, an accurately dressed period piece that looks and feels the part. But nothing about the film hits you as particularly new or exciting. Prickly topics like faith and infidelity aren’t so much explored as they are simply covered, and the dialogue sounds like something you’ve heard a thousand times. There’s also a sense that the filmmakers noticed this problem because halfway through, the movie switches into a more lighthearted tone, as if it were suddenly bored of itself. Sure, Big George Foreman is easy to follow and nice to look at, but its formulaic structure fails to distinguish itself from a long and ever-growing line of sports biopics.

Genre: Drama, History

Actor: Al Bernstein, Al Sapienza, Anthony Marble, Austin David Jones, Azaria Carter, Barry Hanley, Bill Martin Williams, Billy Slaughter, Brian Ibsen, Deion Smith, Deneen Tyler, Dwayne L. Barnes, Eric Hanson, Erica Tazel, Forest Whitaker, Greg Wattkis, Jasmine Mathews, John Magaro, Jonathan Mercedes, Joshua Wade, Judd Lormand, Julia Lashae, K. Steele, Kei, Khris Davis, Lara Grice, Lawrence Gilliard Jr., Madison Dirks, Martin Bats Bradford, Matthew Glave, Matthew Rimmer, Michael Harrity, Michael Papajohn, Philip Fornah, Raion Hill, Robert Cicchini, Robert Larriviere, Sam Trammell, Samantha Beaulieu, Shein Mompremier, Sonja Sohn, Sullivan Jones, T.C. Matherne, Tom Virtue

Director: George Tillman Jr.

Rating: PG-13

As documentaries go, They Called Him Mostly Harmless is pretty standard, if not forgettable, fare. There isn’t a lot of information regarding the case it focuses on, so it relies heavily on interviews with related persons and “internet sleuths” who have taken it upon themselves to solve the mystery of this hiker’s identity. It moves slowly, bogged even further down by unnecessary backstories that do nothing to get us closer to cracking the case. To be sure, it’s impressive that the missing man in question was able to scrub all evidence of his existence in this digital age, but the documentary fails to build on that intrigue and instead gives us something that sputters till the end.

Genre: Documentary

Director: Patricia E. Gillespie