31st Mar2020

‘Lady and the Tramp’ Review (Disney+)

by Chris Cummings

Features the voices of: Tessa Thompson, Justin Theroux, Sam Elliott, Ashley Jensen, Janelle Monáe, Benedict Wong, Clancy Brown, Nate ‘Rocket’ Wonder, Roman GianArthur Irvin, James Bentley, Jentel Hawkins | Written by Andrew Bujalski | Directed by Charlie Bean


Disney are well known, in recent years especially, for their live-action (and I use that term loosely) remakes of classic animated films from their catalogue. We’ve seen Beauty & The Beast, Aladdin, Dumbo, Cinderella and others hit cinemas in recent years to mixed results, and now, with the debut of their streaming platform Disney Plus, we have seen another added to the list, Lady and the Tramp. Now, I’m a fan of the original 1955 animated classic. It’s cute, iconic and beautifully animated, a real smash hit from Disney history. I was curious when I heard about this live action remake, and when we finally signed up to Disney Plus when it landed here in the UK, it was one of the first things we clicked “play” on.

The tale of a young dog named Lady who is loving her existence with her owners in their beautiful home. She spends her days in the garden, talking with her neighbour dog buddies, Jock and Trusty, and generally enjoying life. Living the dream, if you will. Things change, however, when Lady’s owners have a baby and Lady takes something of a backseat. Things go from bad to worse when Lady runs away after a run in with two rascally siamese cats and their mean-spirited owner, Aunt Sarah. Lady, now on the mean streets, finds herself with Tramp, and their initial reluctance to be friends turns into a blossoming relationship built on trust and howling at the moon.

Directed by Charlie Bean (The Lego Ninjago Movie), what you know and love from the original animation is basically here. It’s a very similar tale, with very little changed for this updated version, and I was glad about that. The dogs are a mixture of real trained dogs and CGI pups, and it doesn’t always LOOK as good as it could have, though the voice performances from Justin Theroux as Tramp, Tessa Thompson as Lady and Sam Elliott as Trusty are delightfully done. One change that confused me that I felt didn’t work was the change in gender of Jock to a female doggy voiced by Scottish actress Ashley Jensen. My issue with this is purely based on the fact that I really liked the original Jock character from the animated movie, and I missed that being present here. A positive change that I should mention is the removal of the racist stereotyping of the siamese cats themselves. Yep, gone are those cringeworthy accents, and instead just general American ones. Phew.

A solid cast, well trained dogs and the thankfully retained classic songs and moments that made the ‘55 film so glorious, make this a film that many fans will enjoy, but there will certainly be many who find it to be something of an unnecessary step down from what that original classic was. Yes, this is in no way as good as the animated film, a fact that can be echoed in every last one of the “live-action” remakes from Disney. I enjoy many of them, though, for what they are. In a world with so many uncertain things, so much darkness and worry, there’s a big part of me that can’t be mad at this. I enjoyed it for what it was, and while there are glaring issues with CGI at times, and little changes to the story that I wasn’t keen on, there’s still a real charm and an old-school romance at the heart of it. If you’re a fan of the live-action remakes, you will likely dig this. If you love the original… well… I can’t tell you how you’ll feel about this. You might love it, you might hate it. Either way, give it a watch and decide for yourself.

*** 3/5

Lady and the Tramp is available on Disney+ now.


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