Sunday, November 21, 2010

Lady And The Tramp Is Cute, But Thoroughly Underwhelming.

The Good: Charming, Decent animation, Good message
The Bad: Short, Very simply, Light on character development, Dated ethnic stereotypes
The Basics: Despite being cute, Disney's Lady And The Tramp is little more than a cartoon on traditional family values and a very basic fable.

Every now and then, I encounter something that is simple beyond belief and while it might be classified as a "classic" by others, I look at it thoroughly objectively. In the case of Disney's Lady And The Tramp, I am shocked the film has endured in the collective unconscious. My wife recently got ill and she curled up with her Lady plush (click here for that review!) and had me get out Lady And The Tramp on DVD. With its ridiculously short running time, Lady And The Tramp is little more than an extended cartoon fable and seeing it again (I believe I saw it as a young child) I felt both disappointed and surprised that Disney released it as a full-length feature ever and reissued it on DVD.

Lady And The Tramp is a simplistic fable and it is worth noting that my rating of the animated "film" (it is barely over seventy minutes long) is more a reflection on how little there is to the movie, not a criticism of the movie per se. In other words, Lady And The Tramp isn't especially bad, but rather there is almost nothing to it and as a result, it is frustrating to watch and review because of its entirely uncomplicated nature. Unlike many Disney films that pad out an unimpressive story out with several musical numbers, Lady And The Tramp has very few songs and is more old than it is truly grand.

Lady is a cocker spaniel who lives with Jim Dear and his wife. She is the pride of the family and the suburban neighborhood they live in is filled with animals, a Scottish Terrier Jock and an old hound dog named Old Trusty. When the town takes a more aggressive stand on stray dogs, the Tramp aids strays captured by the pound in escaping. But after months of being doted on by the Darlings, Lady is neglected by them. It seems Dear is pregnant and Tramp warns Lady that the arrival of a child will mean the end of her cushy lifestyle.

When the baby is born and Lady is left with the dog-hating Aunt Sarah and her two treacherous Siamese cats, Lady flees. Out on the streets, she encounters Tramp and he rescues Lady from a pack of mean dogs. Together, they fall in love and work to exonerate Lady in the eyes of the Darlings by keeping the baby safe from the Siamese cats.

Beyond a very dated notion of both family values and ethnic stereotypes, Lady And The Tramp is a very simple fable about love transcending social barriers. Lady is upper class, Tramp is a street urchin and he is unashamed of his lifestyle, which illustrates the importance of being oneself. But beyond that, the characters are very monolithic. Lady is an archetype, proud to be the pride of the Darlings and proud to wear a beautiful new collar. But beyond that, she is lacking in real character until she hooks up with Tramp. In other words, it is only that her love transcends the social boundaries of the time that Lady actually rises to an interesting level of character and Tramp never actually develops beyond his initial characterization.

The music that is present in Lady And The Tramp is very simple and not terribly memorable. Indeed, outside the ridiculously racist "We Are Siamese" - which is presented by two cats with stereotypical (racist) buck teeth - there is only one other memorable song. In fact, despite the fact that I saw the film last week, I don't recall if there even was a third (or more) song in the film!

Arguably what makes Lady And The Tramp memorable for fans of Disney would have to be the quality of the animation for the time the movie was made. On DVD, Lady And The Tramp looks great with remastered coloring and the fluidity of the animation looks impressive when one considers the movie is fifty-five years old. But beyond that and the featurettes on how the movie was made, Lady And The Tramp is unbelievably simplistic and not worth the time and money viewers or collectors would spend upon it.

For other Disney films, please visit my reviews of:
The Little Mermaid
The Last Song
Alice In Wonderland


For other film reviews, please click here to visit my index page for a complete listing of all I have reviewed!

© 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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