You’d be forgiven for dismissing a movie about two dogs falling in love as a “kiddie-centric” movie with little depth. It would be a mistake though because Lady and the Tramp is a good showcase for Disney’s writing ability. The studio takes a very shallow plot and manages to add some great depth, bringing the characters to life and getting you invested in the animated pets.
The characters vary effectively. Lady is a classic Disney Princess but with four paws and tail. The opening sequence which outlines her perfect life and then the invasion of that life with a tiny new human arrival, is a great demonstration of how to convey a lot using very little. Lady isn’t the only character of worth though and Tramp is a great juxtaposition to her perfect life. The scenes in which they meet and slowly fall in love are done well, with Tramp showing Lady “the ropes” of being a “stray.”
Tramp is likeable and street-smart without being irritating. This goes for the rest of the support characters too and they do well to use the different breeds of dogs to create key characters. From the Scottish Terrier Jock to the old reliable Bloodhound Trusty, through to the collection of strays at the dog pound, there is a great depth to the different characters which brings the story to life well.
The story isn’t exactly the deepest or most complex but it works well and is told effectively. A classic love story between two dogs from different backgrounds, their relationship meets a range of different obstacles which all work within the context. There is even genuine peril to overcome as well, with a great finale which will keep you invested.
For a Disney film, it does lack that classic soundtrack. The most famous song is “He’s a Tramp…” which plays more like a classic soul song than the usual toe-tapping, sing-along Disney hit you’d expect. The soundtrack is sparse when it comes to classic songs at all.
There are also some dodgy characters which wouldn’t pass the stereotype test today, especially the Siamese cats which are brought to life with some unfortunate accents and mannerisms which come across as awkwardly offensive. It dates the film.
Overall, Lady and the Tramp is a good example of being able to give Disney any sort of ingredients and watching them create magic. This is a movie with good characters, a fun story and some actual drama. It misses on the Disney soundtrack and has a dodgy issue with some dated stereotypes but is a classic nonetheless.
Rating – 4
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