Disney+ will be the home of just about all the classic Disney content you could ever want, but it will also be the home of new projects, and the first one up to bat is a live-action adaptation of the beloved animated Lady and the Tramp. Those who remember the original film know it's a love story of two dogs from two very different walks of life, but it's also about hope and opening your eyes to new and different experiences, and about changing one's perception of what life can be. Director Charlie Bean aims to bring that timeless story to life in live action, and, thankfully, he very much succeeded.
While Lion King's CGI animal cast struggled at times in conveying palpable expressions and emotions, Lady and the Tramp's lovable pups fair much better. The delightful canines all bring a sweetness and authenticity to their parts while the talented voice cast help flesh those personalities out even more. Trusty, Peg, Bull, and Jackie all shine in various ways, especially Peg's perfect rendition of "He's a Tramp," but the top prize goes to the film's two leads.
Tessa Thompson infuses Lady with a delightful optimism and a perfect touch of sarcasm, while Justin Theroux brings a mix of charm and surprising vulnerability to Tramp. The chemistry between the two is quickly apparent, and sooner or later you'll completely forget you're watching a conversation play out between two dogs and lose yourself in the very human exchange.
Bean keeps things tight in both pace and narrative, as the film never overstays its welcome and hits all the right emotional beats. Some of those beats might surprise you in how effective they are, though those moments never dip into the saccharine. There's a lightheartedness to the more serious moments that takes just enough of the edge off, making it perfect for the entire family but with enough depth to keep the viewer from drifting.
We'd be remiss not to mention one of the film's most iconic scenes, which also ends up becoming one of the film's best. Lady and Tramp's sharing of a spaghetti dinner is even more charming than you remember, and it's wonderful to see the compassionate side of humanity on full display. You'll find it increasingly difficult not to smile throughout this entire sequence, one that's absolutely full of that wonderful Disney magic.
Some animal owners might have a difficult time with one or two of the sequences. It can be hard to see how heartless people can be, especially depending on your sensitivity to the treatment of animals. Showing what happened to Tramp is sadly authentic to what happens in real life to animals all over the world, and while it might be hard to watch for some, it is important to both the story and the character. Its presence doesn't detract from the film but it is worth noting depending on who you are watching it with.
There was quite a bit of care that went into recreating this classic for a new and modern audience, and it shows. The voice cast instills each pup with ample personality, especially Thompson and Theroux, who also find a way to bring real conflict and vulnerability to both their characters. The timeless story gets just enough modern touches to make it feel fresh once more, and you'll feel just about every emotion before the credits roll. Lady and the Tramp captures the heart and charm of the original and adds a whole new layer of wonder and hope for a brand new audience, and no Disney fan will want to miss out on experiencing it first hand.
Rating: 5 out of 5