In a surprising move, Disney decided to remake their classic animated film Lady & The Tramp. Instead of receiving the big screen treatment like Dumbo, The Lion King & Aladdin, this release went straight to the streaming service with an all star cast, an interesting take on the classic story and some beautiful dogs with great CGI effects to really sell it. The movie is part of the launch line up for Disney with the story and movie turning out to be better than this years live action remake duds released at the cinema (this film is rated highest on Rotten Tomatoes & IMDB).
The film follows the story of a cocker spaniel puppy Lady (Tessa Thompson) who is adopted by Jim Dear (Thomas Mann) and Darling (Kiersey Clemons). She becomes the center of their universe and lives a pampered lifestyle in the upper class part of town. By contrast Tramp (Justin Theroux) is a scamp, living on the streets, scrouinging and sometimes stealing for food. He has no family and is constantly on the run from a dog catcher (Adrian Martinez) Lady and Tramp meet on the run from dog catcher and upon hearing about the baby, Tramp plants seeds of doubt in Lady that she will be rejected. When the new baby arrives Jim Dear and Darling take a trip and leave dog hating Aunt Sarah (Yvette Nicole Brown) and her two home wrecking cats to look after Lady. Things don’t go so well and Lady ends up on the streets swith Tramp navigating through to find her way back home.
Story wise most of the animted film is intact. The plot follows the same beats bringing the classic scenes from the cartoon to life. While this is perfection for the nostalgic, there are elements that seemed out of place. The story and film is set in 1909 in the USA, and the film is rife with inter-racial marriages and no segregation. While this is a family film, it feels a little blind to the times and erasing a part of history that could easily be explained and intergrated into this story.
The supporting cast are also fantastic with Trusty voiced by the incredible Sam Elliott, Jock is now a female and voiced by the hilarious Ashley Jensen and the streetwise Peg voiced by Janelle Monae. Thompson and Theroux are the perfect casting for the lead pair and while they don’t share any on screen moments, their animated counter parts are charming as polar opposites. In addition Brown is fantastic as Aunt Sarah, the socialite who wants to interfere in Jim Dear and Darlings life, especially when the baby is born and her distaste for Lady.
What didn’t work was the musical elements. The dogs randomly break into song and while this can work in a musical. it feels really out of place in this film when the dogs start singing in the jail. It is a weird transition as this is the only part of the film where the dogs sing. By comparison the scene where Bella Notte and the infamous pasta scene is incredibly beautiful. Director Charlie Bean seems to understand how important this scene is to fans of the original and treats it beautifully. The two restaurant workers are fitting and showing a comparison of a couple sitting in the restaurant neglected while the dogs are being fawned over is hilarious.
Special effects wise this film hits the mark. The CGI used over the top of the dogs mouths is flawless. The dogs themselves are reminsent of older films like Homeward Bound and Milo & Otis, with a modern CG update. The dogs themselves are beautiful, dog lovers everywhere will be drooling over the adorable Lady as a puppy and the array of different breeds you see during the film. It is important to note that Disney used rescue dogs for this film which is a great additional touch.
This version of Lady & The Tramp is faithful to the original while making some changes to attempt to bring it into 2019 with the removal of supposedly racist siamese cats and updating the colour palette of the cast were interesting choices, the heart and message of the movie have remained intact. While there isn’t a ton of new content to watch at launch, Lady & The Tramp is the perfect way to introduce your family to Disney +.
Lady & The Tramp is streaming exclusively on Disney + from 19th November.