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Lady and the Tramp Review: Disney's Live-Action Remake Is (Mostly) Cute

Tessa Thompson voices Lady and Justin Theroux voices Tramp in Disney's Lady and the Tramp

Lady and the Tramp excels as a fun and heartwarming film thanks to its cute dogs and voice cast, adapting the same beloved story for a new generation.

In recent years, Disney has taken to adapting its animated classics for live-action, sometimes sticking straight to the original story and other times putting a whole new twist on it. Falling into the former category is Lady and the Tramp, a live-action adaptation of the 1955 animated movie of the same name. However, unlike Disney's live-action remakes up to this point, Lady and the Tramp won't be released theatrically. Instead, it's one of the launch releases for the Mouse House's streaming service, Disney+. In good news for Disney+, Lady and the Tramp is also one of the better live-action Disney remakes. Lady and the Tramp excels as a fun and heartwarming film thanks to its cute dogs and voice cast, adapting the same beloved story for a new generation.

Lady and the Tramp follows the cocker spaniel named Lady (voiced by Tessa Thompson), who is raised and well-loved by young couple Jim Dear (Thomas Mann) and Darling (Kiersey Clemons). Along with her people, Lady lives a full life thanks to her two friends, the Bloodhound Trusty (voiced by Sam Elliot) and Scottish Terrier Jock (voiced by Ashley Jensen). However, when Jim Dear and Darling have a baby, Lady is left feeling shut out from the family. When the couple go away and leave Darling's Aunt Sarah (Yvette Nicole Brown) in charge, things take a turn for the worse and Lady winds up on the street, where she runs across the Schnauzer-mutt Tramp (voiced by Justin Theroux). As Tramp shows Lady what the city has to offer a stray dog, she'll have to decide where she wants her place in the world to be: with her people or on the street with Tramp.

Lady (voiced by Tessa Thompson) and Tramp (voiced by Justin Theroux) in Disney’s Lady and the Tramp

Charlie Bean (The LEGO Ninjago Movie) directs Lady and the Tramp from a script by Andrew Bujalski (Support the Girls) and Kari Granlund (Troubleshooters), though much of the 2019 film's success can likely be derived from the writers on the 1955 animated original: Erdman Penner, Joe Rinaldi, Ralph Wright and Don DaGradi. Very little about the overall story structure is changed from the animated movie, though Bujalski and Granlund's script does modernize it in both obvious and subtle ways. The story is made to be more of a coming-of-age tale (pun intended) as Lady discovers the world outside her fenced-in yard and must figure out where she belongs. Though the love story of Lady and Tramp is still integral to the movie, Lady is given a great deal of agency and becomes a well-developed character in her own right. As a result, Lady and the Tramp offers a more well-rounded story that will appeal to contemporary audiences.

But of course, the biggest change in this adaptation is bringing Lady and the Tramp into the world of live-action, which Disney has had mixed results with in the past. For Lady and the Tramp, Bean uses real dogs (Rose plays Lady and Monte plays Tramp), which goes a long way in creating a film that looks appealing and to which audiences can connect. The dogs are rarely fully brought to life using CGI, which allows the movie to feel more real. But the exception is their mouths. The dogs' mouths are made to look as if they're talking using CGI, which is distracting at first, but viewers will likely be able to get past it eventually. Bean clearly does what he can to avoid using CGI as much as possible, which benefits the film overall, allowing viewers to get caught up in the story and characters and not get too distracted by the fact that the dogs' mouths just don't look right forming human words. It further helps that Lady and the Tramp's voice cast is charming enough to pull attention away from the weird mouths, with Thompson and Theroux infusing a great deal of warmth into their characters.

Justin Theroux and Tessa Thompson are the voice stars of Disney's Lady and the Tramp

Ultimately, Lady and the Tramp may play it a little too safe, sticking strictly to what works for audiences: cute dogs and the original story of the 1955 movie. But there's a reason the animated Lady and the Tramp is considered one of Disney's classics, because it's a timeless tale of love and family. Giving the story some updates, and reworking the entire racist Siamese cat sequence (which is replaced by a song written by Janelle Monáe, Nate "Rocket" Wonder and Roman GianArthur), helps to give the movie somewhat of a fresh spin and make necessary changes to aspects of Lady and the Tramp that simply wouldn't work today. While fans of the animated original may not find enough new to the 2019 Lady and the Tramp to warrant a viewing, the movie seems geared toward younger generations anyway - those who grew up during the Disney renaissance and later, who aren't as attached to the earlier eras.

In fact, Lady and the Tramp may benefit from the low barrier of entry that comes from being released on streaming, allowing anyone with a Disney+ account access to view the live-action adaptation. Lady and the Tramp isn't the kind of spectacle that necessitates a theatrical viewing, but it's an incredibly entertaining romp in its own right. And it's made all the more enjoyable by the fact that it's about a pair of adorable dogs (who are actually excellent performers). The voice and human casts come together to help bring Lady and the Tramp to life with all of the magic Disney fans expect. While it may not offer a wholly new spin on the source material, Lady and the Tramp is genuinely fun and heartwarming, and marks a solid family-friendly foray into the world of streaming for Disney+.

Trailer

Lady and the Tramp will be available to stream on Disney+ November 12th. It is 102 minutes long and rated PG for some mild thematic elements and action/peril.

Let us know what you thought of the film in the comments section!

Our Rating:

3 out of 5 (Good)
Key Release Dates
  • Lady and the Tramp (2019) release date: Nov 12, 2019
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