Disney’s live action version of Lady and the Tramp is a wonderful remake of the classic ’50s cartoon. I must admit to being skeptical before watching. Will this be another soulless, unoriginal retread meant to squeeze easy money from generations of fan sentimentality? But just like Dumbo, Aladdin, and The Lion King, my negative preconceptions were completely squashed. Lady and the Tramp is a well-made, heartwarming family film. Its sugary sweet plot becomes infectiously entertaining. If it can put a smile on my grouchy face, children and parents will surely by delighted.
The first Disney+ original movie arriving alongside Noelle, Lady and the Tramp takes place at the turn of the 20th century in a quaint, but bustling river town. Jim Dear (Thomas Mann) gives an adorable cocker spaniel puppy to his wife, Darling (Kiersey Clemons). They name her Lady (Tessa Thompson). She is beloved by her owners. Lady lives a charmed life of treats, baths, and snuggled bedtime between the Dears. The same cannot be said for a slick street Schnauzer. Tramp (Justin Theroux) sleeps in a rail car, steals for his supper, and is constantly hounded by a relentless dog catcher (Adrian Martinez).
Lady’s life as the center of attention takes a dramatic downturn when Darling has a baby. Feeling a bit neglected, Lady gets an unexpected lesson in the hard knock life. She’s accidentally let loose after an incident with the deplorable Aunt Sarah (Yvette Nicole Brown). Lost and terrified, Tramp comes to her rescue. The two dogs spend an enchanting day exploring the city. Tramp embraces his freedom, warning Lady that humans will always abandon dogs. Lady becomes enamored by the charming rogue, but feels in her heart she must find a way home. Their adventure turns perilous when the dog catcher catches up to them.
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Lady and the Tramp sticks to the general story of the cartoon, but does have a few differences. It’s not a shot for shot remake, except for the icnoic Lady and the Tramp spaghetti dinner scene; which would be sacrilege to change. What really stood out to me was the racial diversity of the cast. The Dears are an interracial couple. The town is more of a melting pot than the most heterogeneous neighborhoods in Queens. Every family that watches Lady and the Tramp will see their ethnicity depicted. This is not done in an obtuse, forced politically correct way. Lady and the Tramp is a fantasy about singing and talking dogs. Kudos to Disney for broadening the appeal.
The Disney pooches will melt your hearts like butter. Smooth visual effects make their interactions highly realistic. Director Charlie Bean (The Lego Ninjago Movie) delivers a polished film. The dogs fit seamlessly into the story. I loved Benedict Wong as Bull, the dim-witted bulldog. A few of the supporting canines almost steal the show. Lady and the Tramp portrays the pound, and what happens to animals there, realistically. I sincerely hope the film will increase shelter adoptions. It’s a serious aspect that is thankfully not glossed over.
If you liked Disney’s original Lady and the Tramp animated movie, you’ll like this film. If you never saw the cartoon, then Lady and the Tramp will be an enjoyable surprise. I’ve read several reviews that criticize Lady and the Tramp for being too saccharine, or not deviating enough from the original. The naysayers are quibbling. Lady and the Tramp is quality G-rated entertainment. Kids are going to be begging for puppies. Lady and the Tramp is produced by Walt Disney Pictures and will be available to stream November 12th on Disney+.