Movie Review: Lady and the Tramp

by David Sokol
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Lady and the Tramp

  • Rated G for General Audiences (Bonus material not rated)
  • Recommended for all ages
  • Run Time: 76 minutes

Nostalgic Doggie Romance Inspires Laughs and Tears

Lady and the Tramp is quite a cozy story, beginning at Christmastime with Jim Dear presenting his wife, Darling, with an adorable cocker spaniel named Lady. (My young daughter got a kick out of the way the dogs refer to Jim and his wife the same way that they talk to each other, as Jim Dear and Darling.) The film comes full circle and ends at a later Christmas, this time with the house filled not only with a human toddler but with a whole clan of adorable pups. As the story unfolds, the dogs and the other animals reveal diverse, lovable, and good-natured personalities. There are hilarious bits including a scene at the zoo with a busy beaver and a laughing hyena. And, of course, there are a few not-so-nice characters populating the film, like the Siamese cats and a mangy rat, thrown in for spice.

Kids Will Like:

Even if they don't understand all the dialogue, kids will be enthralled with many of the characters and their personalities: the sweet-tempered Lady; the wise and brave Tramp; the slow-talking bloodhound Trusty who seems to have lost his sense of smell; the industrious busy beaver at the zoo who frees Lady of the muzzle that mean Aunt Sarah bought for her; and plenty of others. The storyline, in which the animals have very human personalities, is engaging with just the right element of drama. And the look of the film, Disney's first to use the widescreen CinemaScope technique, is gorgeous, soft, and appealing to very young eyes.

Parents Will Like:

Set in the early 1900s and made more than 50 years ago, the movie has a nostalgic feel -- note the old streetcars and the horses and carriages -- and the aura of a simpler, less hectic time. Jim Dear and Darling always speak to each other with civility, even during a blizzard when Darling has a late-night appetite for watermelon and chop suey and Jim has to go out into the cold to satisfy her craving. (Who knew they had open-all-night stores back then?) And in Tramp, the mongrel from across the tracks, who ultimately sheds his "footloose and collar-free" days for a more domestic life, there's a great joie de vivre. His "hakuna matata" philosophy leads to some endearing escapades, such as the famous spaghetti-sharing dinner at Tony's Restaurant.

Heads Up:

Although the movie is about as child-friendly as they get, there are a few mildly scary moments sprinkled in. Aunt Sarah's Siamese Cats are quite naughty, and Sarah herself isn't at all fond of Lady. Then there are three slobbering stray dogs that chase after Lady (Tramp comes to her rescue) and a mangy rat that gets into the baby's room (Tramp comes to the rescue, again). There are some priceless bits at the dog pound (the pooches harmonize hysterically singing "Home Sweet Home"), but there is one moment when a dog is led off through the one-way door, ostensibly never to return. There are also some gunshots heard after Tramp playfully disrupts a coop full of chickens. And in the chase scene near the movie's end, the wagon taking Tramp to the pound tips over, on top of beloved Trusty. At first it looks like curtains, but the bloodhound recovers and, with a broken leg, joins his friends at Christmas.

Own It?

You should, doggone it! This movie is upbeat, positive, and gets better with each viewing. Digitally remastered, its look and story are timeless, appealing to viewers of all ages.

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