Lady and the Tramp was one of the first Disney+ movies announced for the streaming service. I’d imagine it surprised many to have a live-action remake one of the very first original productions for the new service. It certainly surprised me. I’ll admit that I’m not the biggest fan of the live-action remakes, but, usually, don’t mind them. With that in mind, here’s a review of the remake of an animated classic and whether it’s worth watching if you have Disney Plus.
Let’s start a little simple, but that could have some controversy. The original animated film has some very memorable classic songs of Bella Notte and He’s a Tramp. They are treasures that people were probably worried about. Rest assured that these movie versions did the originals justice, and surprisingly improved upon one. Bella Notte is fairly the same as the original. It, of course, has new vocals and slightly different orchestration. It remains a classic with little difference in the new movie. He’s a Tramp surprised me, however, and in a good way! It’s been a fun song since the animated version with sultry vocals from Peggy Lee. The new version is like a jazzy Broadway-style tune with amazing vocals from Janelle Monáe. I might be biased being a fan of jazz music, but I do think this was a show-stopping song in the film!
Besides the songs, the soundtrack is refreshing. The setting is in the South rather than the North East of the original, and that means there is liberty to use some Southern Jazz sounds to the background music. It helped bring more to the visual environment and didn’t detract from the movie. There were a couple of nods to the original soundtrack that was both homage and bridge to the animated classic. It was a great fit, and something I wish was in more of the remakes.
The cast is a very wonderful fit for the movie. Tessa Thompson did a great job of voicing an innocent Lady. I was disappointed with the dog casting of Tramp, but Justin Theroux’s great take of voicing a dog with a past made me like this take of the famous mutt quite a bit. Like I said above, Janelle Monáe stole the song show with her characterization of Peg. Sam Elliott was the perfect casting for Trusty, and it felt like having old reliable. Jackie, a female version of the classic Jacque, was maybe the weaker performance for me, but it doesn’t mean she did a bad job. Some of it is getting used to this new casting.
I instantly was delighted in Thomas Mann and Kersey Clemons performing Jim Dear and Darling with the first scene. Their performance helps ground the movie in the original as they have a very family feel. Yvette Nicole Brown as Aunt Sarah was a fun and great casting choice. My favorite was Adrian Martinez as the dog catcher. Adrian Martinez brings a great performance of being comedic and menacing at the same time. He’s the perfect foil to Tramp, but an enjoyable one. The only disappointing thing is that there is no Beaver in this version. He was my favorite character in the original, though there is an homage in this live-action version.
Like I said before, I’m not the biggest fan of the remakes. I don’t find them adding anything to the story from before. Lady and the Tramp is an exception to me. As I watched it I realized how episodic the original felt to me. It wasn’t terrible for the animated movie, but there was not much cohesion of time and unity in events. The live-action version ties things together and is more cohesive of a storyline. There is much more background for the dogs and their relationship. There is more to Jim Dear and Darling’s family and how it fits with the dogs. And, there is a bit of difference from the original to watch this and find it fresh. I won’t give away what it all is, but I was very pleased with the direction this movie took. It was not a shot for shot remake, but a new take on the original.
So, is Lady and the Tramp worth taking time amidst all the other available streaming choices for Disney+? Yes! An enthusiastic yes! Like I said this is a much more fresh take on the live-action remakes than some of the others. It features terrific music, a great cast, and terrific visuals. It is already becoming a classic in my mind. And if you’re worried about CG dogs, it is really hard to tell when they are CG and when they are not. They also have enough emotion in their expressions to express what they’re feeling yet still be realistic. In all, if this is the quality that Disney is producing movies for Disney+ I might never go to the theater again!