- Directed by Charlie Bean
- November 12, 2019 (US)
- Based on the 1945 Cosmopolitan story “Happy Dan, The Cynical Dog” by Ward Greene and the 1955 film Lady and the Tramp
A female American Cocker Spaniel named Lady who lives with an upper-middle-class family and a male stray mutt called Tramp meet and embark on a romantic adventure and fall in love.
As I have often said, the goal of a remake should be to fix what was wrong with the original. As should be the goal of a reimagining. Whichever you wish to call this version of Lady and the Tramp, its goal should have been to fix issues with the original and honestly there wasn’t anything too wrong with the original. As stated previously, the original was okay and re-watchable as a nostalgic trip back to your youth. Not great but not a disappointment. This however takes what worked for the original and ignores it in favor of crappiness.
For a film ostensibly about two dogs and their adventure through the city, this version of Lady and the Tramp spends a lot more time on humans than its processor did. I’m not sure why. The actors behind Jim Dear (Thomas Mann) and Darling (Kiersey Clemons) are certainly not huge names. While they are still the B Story, they are a significant B Story that takes focus away from the main narrative.
This increased focus on two previously minor characters adds about twenty extra minutes to the film that is just padding to slow it all up. Adding additional material can help a film but not so much here. It is all fluff to justify hiring live action actors. I’m not against long films but you need to know what to keep and what not to keep and this doesn’t know what not to keep. And ultimately there’s not much more story with that additional time here than there was previously. It adds absolutely nothing overall which brings a question again: why is it there?
Lady and the Tramp is certainly beautiful. They immerse you in the environment and the efforts to make the dogs appear to really talk certainly come off effectively. And I really did like the re-creation of the spaghetti scene. It came off especially well. There are points that are virtually identical to the original film.
The dog catcher character of Elliot (Adrian Martinez) plays a much more significant part in this movie than he did in the last one. I am not even sure if we saw his face let alone got a name previously. He is cast as the main villain (as main as we get anyway) though he really does not come off as a threat. He is far too much of a bumbler and borders on real world creepy and not what you would find in a film. It is certainly unsettling at points. It may have worked in animation but not in live action.
Perhaps the problem is this has people in it and this is a story based off of another story that was also made into a film or it’s based off of the film. However you look at it this has people in it much more than the predecessor and what works in literature or in animated form does not necessarily translate 100% into live action. You can get close but not always identical. And that’s on a good day because sometimes you can’t do it well at all in live action.
The voice acting on the part of the animals is done well. They really deliver there. The acting by the people as humans, however, is a bit flat and bland. It feels like the actors are trying to talk down to the audience rather than perform their parts well. The actors either can’t or won’t bring themselves to take the material seriously and perform instead as if they are talking to small children and not the adults who might take a look for nostalgic reasons.
Ultimately this version of the story of Lady and the Tramp is a safe and inoffensive film with nothing really special to offer. It won’t ruin your enjoyment of the original, but the original is probably the better of the two films so stick with that and just skip this one.