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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this remake of Disney's classic Lady and the Tramp is still family-friendly but is a little more intense than the original, largely due to the realism of the CGI and live-action characters. The human dog catcher, who hunts Tramp the entire movie, gives the remake a menacing villain, and the other dangers to the animals -- other dogs, cats, street traffic, the rat -- may feel more threatening now that they're more lifelike. Sequences that could scare little kids include when Lady is imprisoned in the dog pound, when Tramp lies unconscious after being tossed from a moving vehicle, and when the rat pounces on the baby's crib. There's a potentially upsetting scene of what happens to dogs that don't get adopted. As Lady (voiced by Tessa Thompson) and Tramp (Justin Theroux) fall in love, they share a couple of flirtatious moments, including the classic spaghetti scene. "Dang it" is used, and characters appear to drink a toast together. This take on Tramp is a little mangier than the original, but the cast of human characters imbues the classic tale with a welcome new diversity.
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What's the story?
In LADY AND THE TRAMP, Lady (voiced by Tessa Thompson) is a pampered pet who lives a comfortable, predictable life. When her owners, Jim Dear (Thomas Mann) and Darling (Kiersey Clemons), have a baby, Lady feels forgotten. She runs away and meets stray dog Tramp (Justin Theroux), who teaches her about some of the pleasures of a life with no attachments. The pair slowly fall in love as Tramp shows Lady how to beg for scraps at the classiest restaurants, find the best starry lookout over their city, and howl at the moon. But Tramp is hounded by a persistent dog catcher, and Lady feels homesick. When her people find her again, Lady decides to stay home. Will she and Tramp find each other again?
Is it any good?
There's always risk involved in remaking a beloved classic, and this remake is no different; it both pleases and falls short. Some will love this version of Lady and the Tramp, especially for the technical advances that have brought the CGI characters to life or for the diverse cast that will allow kids from more backgrounds to feel represented on-screen. And others will find things to complain about, like the phoniness of the unnamed time and place the movie is set in or the generally slow pacing. The remake -- which is an hour and 42 minutes long -- might have benefited from a length closer to the original's 76 minutes.
Curiously, the animals come across as more genuine than the live people in this remake. Even the secondary characters, like Lady's neighbor friends (hilariously voiced by Sam Elliott and Scottish actress Ashley Jensen) or Tramp's street friends (especially the commanding Janelle Monáe) are given much fuller personalities than Jim Dear, Darling, or the dog catcher. In this sense, and perhaps rightfully so, the film will appeal more to younger audiences than to adults. Let them have their version; the adults can hang on to the original of their own childhoods.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this version of Lady and the Tramp compares with the original. Which do you prefer? Why?
Did the movie's computer animation make the dogs seem more or less realistic? Why?
The film has a central message about family. What do you think it is?
What character strengths do Lady and Tramp share?
- On DVD or streaming: November 12, 2019
- Cast: Tessa Thompson, Justin Theroux, Sam Elliott
- Director: Charlie Bean
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Friendship
- Character strengths: Courage, Teamwork
- Run time: 102 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild thematic elements and action/peril
- Last updated: April 28, 2020
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