The release of Disney+ brought about a slew of new content including a new translation of an old animated favorite. One of the biggest complaints about Disney’s live-action (or “live-action” aka realistic 3D animation which is still animation) is while they are technical beauties, the shot for shot remakes suck the life and personality out of the beloved animated classics. There’s a translation element that’s missing which shows a fundamental misunderstanding of why people love the originals. Luckily they seem to have gotten the message because the latest release, Lady and the Tramp, is full of heart and clearly made by people who love dogs as much as the audience does.
In fact, Lady and the Tramp is basically pandering to the “we rate dogs” crowd and personally attacking everyone. So, get ready to be in your feels about how all dogs are good dogs and resist the urge to head to the shelter immediately after viewing.
Lady and the Tramp is a gentle meditation on classism, prejudice, and the anxiety of change at home told through the eyes of soon to be pupsister, Lady (Tessa Thompson). As her dogparents Darling (Kiersy Clemons) and Jim Dear (Thomas Mann) bring a human baby into their lives, Lady feels that “do they still love me and want me” squeeze made harder by dog-hating Aunt Sarah (Yvette Nicole Brown) coming to house sit. When Lady accidentally ends up on the street she runs into a street dog named Tramp (Justin Theroux) who she’d previously been properly snobbish and dismissive of earlier. Then, they go on a journey to examine her privilege and learn what she’s truly capable of.
If you’re a loyal fan of the original, there’s plenty to nitpick in the changes. Even while enjoying it, those extra 26 minutes are felt keenly. 80-some minutes is the perfect amount of time for a movie that’s mostly a meet cute with dogs and a lesson in first impressions. Adding more seems like an odd choice considering the direct release to streaming means no need to justify a ticket price to viewers with a longer run time.
But overall Lady and the Tramp keeps the same beats and charm as the original. The turn of the 20th-century setting is gorgeously rendered and the humans are whimsical enough to feel at home in it. Nothing about this film feels too serious, another mistake recent remakes have made. These stories are inherently absurd and embracing which makes for a stronger film. Adrian Martinez as dog-catcher Elliot particularly adds to the whimsy of the human world with the seriousness with which he approaches keeping the streets safe, not from criminals but from stray dogs. Jock (Ashley Jensen) and her owner, who spends her rich idle life dressing up and painting her dog, are also a delight.
Rose and Monte, the real dogs playing Lady and the Tramp, were as adorable as you could imagine. Apparently they even really touched snoots while filming the infamous pasta scene although the final cut is animated. By bringing in real dogs rather than having them be fully animated like in The Lion King, Lady and the Tramp manages to bring more emotion into animation. Theroux and Monte together manage to convey Tramp’s feelings of loss and loneliness he tries to hide behind his cocky streetwise façade, while Thompson and Rose bring real life to Rose’s anxieties and growth.
As for the music, Janelle Monae updated the classic “He’s a Tramp” to a more cautionary of falling for the bad boy rather than the inevitableness of the original. It’s a fine update and Monae’s voice is fantastic as usual. Her character, Peg, along with Benedict Wong‘s Bull serves as the majority of the comic relief in the film and they play their roles well. Silly and carefree and extremely food-driven, they are very relatable.
Relatable really is the theme of the whole movie with old Trusty (Sam Elliot) just wanting to be tired and cranky and Jim Dear and Darling having to deal with judgey relatives and Lady being an anxiety ball. Between that and the goodness that is dogs, Lady and the Tramp (2019) makes for a fun family watch.
Lady and the Tramp is available exclusively on Disney+.
Lady and the Tramp
Relatable really is the theme of the whole movie with old Trusty (Sam Elliot) just wanting to be tired and cranky and Jim Dear and Darling having to deal with judgey relatives and Lady being an anxiety ball. Between that and the goodness that is dogs Lady and the Tramp (2019) makes for a fun family watch.
A queer FilAm SFF, hockey, food and beer loving geeky Chicago denizen who spends too much time on the internets. Good thing none of you can judge. On twitter as semirose spouting nonsense 20/7