As promised, today marks the end of our interview series based around the recent release of The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning, and to finish up with, Jeremie has been speaking to two people very close to the original 1989’s film lyricist Howard Ashman’s heart: his sister Sarah Gillespie and partner William Lauch. While I was writing my own animated musical pitch, the influences of Ashman’s lyrics for Little Shop Of Horrors, The Little Mermaid, Beauty And The Beast and Aladdin were buried deep within my soul, and I often found I was pushing myself further to try and match his genius wordplay. As the dedication on Beauty And The Beast‘s credits state, we will be forever grateful for the projects he was able to touch, and Jeremie’s conversation with Sarah and Bill fondly remembers this very special man.

cruella-live.jpgElsewhere on the site today – and just in time for some lengthy weekend reading! – I’ve posted my take on the new bunch of Disney Dalmatians DVDs, a trio of returns to disc following the Platinum Edition of Walt’s original 1961 film earlier this year. First up is the animated direct to video sequel 101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure, but don’t let those words put you off: this fun little follow-up, while obviously not classic Disney, is a respectable enough outing that provides more than a few decent moments, even if the Special Edition tag here doesn’t amount to anything.

Likewise, I was surprised to find myself liking the 1996 live-action movie, 101 Dalmatians, the Glenn Close-starrer where she makes Cruella DeVil her own. Some quality staging and a tight re-imagining of Walt’s film, rather than Dodie Smith’s original book, helps it come over as a sweet movie adaptation that worked its magic on me with a cozy Harry Potter feel, much more so than the overbloated, shamelessly commercial franchise sequel, 102 Dalmatians (see what they did there?), which everyone had probably best forget.

Both titles have now been issued simultaneously, but why they didn’t come bundled together in a typical Disney Two-Movie Collection is beyond me. The first film is a definite recommended rental, but for those with each disc on their shelves already, I suggest you read my extensive review to decide if these expensive editions are worth investing in. Even though the charming first film’s sole upgrade is anamorphic enhancement, one would have to be awfully big fans to rush out and basically buy overpriced versions of what you already have.

Have a great weekend, and stay tooned! – Ben.