In addition to the multiple new series that launched with Disney+, the streaming service kicked off with two new movies, one of them a charming live-action adaptation of the 1955 animated classic Lady and the Tramp. With adorable pups, a talented voice cast, and just enough updating to make it a new family classic, this adaptation may be less flashy than some of the other Disney remakes, but still finds a way to win you over.
Disney has been on a live-action remake kick for a while, from the 2015 hit adaptation of Cinderella to a range of varying success with the more recent splashy releases of Aladdin, The Lion King, and Dumbo, all in 2019. Perhaps it was wise of the company not to launch Lady and the Tramp through theatrical release. The film hasn’t significantly changed in content. It remains a relatively simple story and primarily aimed at younger children and families, which is just right for home viewing but may not have fared as well on the big screen.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with the plot of Lady and the Tramp (if that’s possible), it follows the adventures of pampered pup Lady, a cocker spaniel, as she stumbles into the rough-and-tumble streets after being overlooked for the new baby in the household. Here she is given the street-savvy tour by scraggly stray Tramp and has adventures high and low before finding her way home. It’s a simple, sweet story about family and acceptance, with a little danger along the way as the dogs go on the run from a dogcatcher with a vendetta for Tramp.
The new version is a little longer than the original, and features real dogs for the most part, with computer manipulation for expressing human dialogue and emotion. The CGI is a little disconcerting at times but doesn’t overtly pull from the charm of the movie, especially given how well trained and expressive the dogs are themselves. Plus, the majority of the dogs in the film were rescues that by the end of filming were all adopted, and Disney adds after the first set of end credits a plug that “every dog deserves a loving home” with a pitch for visiting local animal rescues.
Lady and the Tramp features a robust contemporary voice cast, with Tessa Thompson (Creed, Thor: Ragnarok) as Lady, Justin Theroux (The Leftovers) as Tramp, and Sam Elliott, Ashley Jensen, Janelle Monáe, Benedict Wong, and Clancy Brown as their fellow canine friends. The film also stars Thomas Man, Kiersey Clemons, Yvette Nicole Brown, and Adrian Martinez, as their human co-stars, with cameos from F. Murray Abraham, Arturo Castro, and Ken Jeong.
Janelle Monáe also sings several songs for the film, including the classic “He’s a Tramp,” and co-wrote a new song for the film, “What a Shame,” which replaces the formerly problematic number “The Siamese Cat Song” from the original. The new song still features two cats destroying the home of Lady’s humans and casting blame on the poor pup, but now they are snarkily redecorating with snobbish, sharp-clawed spite, without the racial overtones. (The film is still pretty down on cats, however, alas.)
The original Lady and the Tramp is available as well on Disney+, along with with the majority of the Disney “vault” archive. It, along with numerous older films, features a subtle warning in the plot description: “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.”
Overall the new film keeps the emotional arch of the original, with strong empathy for animals both homed and homeless, as well as the struggle to find balance in a household when a new member arrives. I still found myself full of frustration when Lady and Tramp misunderstood each other in their attempts to communicate or help, and heart warmed when everyone found their happy ending. Animal lovers and families alike should enjoy this film for relaxed weekend viewing this winter.
How to watch The New Lady and the Tramp
Lady and the Tramp is available as an Original release on Disney+. The streaming service is available by subscription for $7.99 a month or $79.99 a year, after a 7-day free trial. A subscription allows for unlimited downloads of content to up to 10 devices for viewing offline, and the ability to stream on four different devices simultaneously.
Disney+ is available on mobile devices (iOS and Androids); desktop computers; PlayStation 4 and Xbox One gaming consoles; Roku; Apple TV; smart TVs such as LG, Samsung, and Android TVs; and Chromebook, Chromecast, Apple AirPlay, and Amazon FireTV. Check out the full list of supported devices for details on individual system requirements, as some specific model numbers may not be compatible.
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