Courtesy of Disney
“Lady and the Tramp” is exactly the type of film that belongs on the new streaming service Disney+ instead of a theater. Not to say all straight to streaming movies are bad, but the CGI live action hybrid of one of the Disney classics looks and feels like a TV movie. Resembling old Disney Channel originals that used to be pumped out at steady rates which, too, can be streamed on Disney+.
“Lady and The Tramp” probably ties “Dumbo” for dullest live action remake of the year. In the new film, directed by Charlie Bean, Kiersey Clemons and Thomas Mann play Darling and Jim Dear, a young married couple in the year 1955. A generic match who celebrate the holiday season with a new puppy, a cocker spaniel named Lady. It’s not long before Darling winds up pregnant and Lady (voiced Tessa Thompson while speaking to her animal companions) begins to sense the couple’s affection shifting. One day she beings to share her concerns with the bloodhound next door (obviously voiced by Sam Elliot), except Trusty isn’t on the other side of the fence, it’s a street pup known as Butch or Tramp (Justin Theroux) who warns her that “when the baby moves in, the dog moves out.”
The remainder of the film, which was written by Andrew Bujalski (“Support the Girls”), follows a tedious and predictable path to the finish line. There’s little wit or charm to help elevate the slower scenes, and when jokes occasionally land, most of the humor hits a sour note. The only “good” sequence in the film is the infamous spaghetti-kiss sequence where Arturo Castro and F. Murray Abraham are the chefs who prepare the meal. It’s still a far cry from the animated version, but you can tell Bean gave this iconic scene the most attention (because it’s the only one adults will actually remember from the cartoon).
As it stands, “Lady and the Tramp” - earnest though it maybe - is a bland attempt at capturing the magic of its animated predecessor. The CGI is rough, Janelle Monae belting an exclusive new tune for the movie has no heart, and the story doesn’t cross into the live action medium as well as you’d hope. Aside from seeing adorable pups (which Disney dutifully rescued from shelters, so God bless them for that) - “Lady and the Tramp” won’t offer much to the casual viewer. It’s fairly harmless - as most things Disney are nowadays - and little ones unfamiliar with the original narrative will likely be enthralled by shiny scenery and mildly engaging songs, but you’re better off just queuing up the animated classic instead.