Lady and the Tramp in Live-Action is A Miss

Lady (voiced by Tessa Thompson) and Tramp (voiced by Justin Theroux) in Disney's live-action Lady and the Tramp. Photo by KC Bailey. (C) 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rRghts Reserved.

If there’s a movie that says that Disney ought to stop adapting classic animation films into live-action, it’s got to be Lady and the Tramp.

The basics of the film mostly remain the same until the film botches the ending.  I’ll have more on the ending in the moment.  A quick refresher:  Jim Dear (Thomas Mann) gives Darling (Kiersey Clemon) a cocker spaniel named Lady (Tessa Thompson).  One day, Lady meets Tramp (Justin Theroux) and the two later go on adventures together before eventually crossing paths with a dog catcher (Adrian Martinez).  Most of the dogs remain the same, including Trusty (Sam Elliott) and Jock (Ashley Jensen).

Even though the gist of the film remains the same, there are new additions.  Mostly, this is because the live-action take is just over 100 minutes long.  The animated film ran 76 minutes long.  There’s not much here that can be added on to the film.  Even though the magic is missing, there are times that we just can’t help but smile.  The moment where Lady and Tramp kiss over a string of spaghetti.  Or when Jim and Darling decide to adopt Tramp.  This is a film that you might watch the one time but honestly, you’re better off rewatching the animated film again.

I beg of you to please leave my childhood alone.  Enough is enough already!  I’ve lost count of the number of live-action adaptations.  Some of them–like Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King–hit at the nostalgic emotions while viewing.  Months later, they just didn’t have the same feeling.  But Lady and the Tramp?!?  The classic spaghetti scene features too much of a focus on the humans than the dogs.  How do you screw up an already perfect ending?!?  If you remember the end of the first film, Lady and Tramp started a family.  At the end of that film, Trusty has a broken leg and after he recovers, he tells stories to Lady and Tramp’s puppies.  Instead, this film sees Tramp suffer from a broken leg and the duo don’t start a family.  Instead, Jock gets a pair of adopted puppies as siblings.

Much like The Lion King this summer, none of the animal faces emote in the same way that we saw in the animated classic.  Granted, the filmmakers went with rescue dogs so there’s live-action going on.  On top of this, they go for the photo-realistic animation since it would be hard to have talking dogs appear on camera.

The animated version of Lady and the Tramp may be a classic but all of the magic is missing in live-action.

DIRECTOR:  Charlie Bean
SCREENWRITERS:  Andrew Bujalski and Kari Granlund
CAST:  Tessa Thompson, Justin Theroux, Kiersey Clemons, Thomas Mann, Janelle Monáe, Yvette Nicole Brown, and Sam Elliott (Voice of Trusty)

Disney+ will launch Lady and the Tramp on November 12, 2019. Grade: 3/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.