As I mentioned on Tuesday, Lady and the Tramp was never one of my favourite Disney movies. Sure the dogs are super cute and it’s a very adorable love story. It just never stuck with me. It lacked the silly humour of the other films, it didn’t have the catchy songs, and it didn’t have a larger than life villain. For a Disney film, it’s kind of grown-up and serious. And though it centres around talking dogs, it’s more of a real-world film rather than a fantasy one. Set in the real world and taking much inspiration from society. Let’s be honest, the thing most people remember most from this film is probably the thing that Disney is trying so hard to cover up. The thing that Disney+ warns is an “outdated cultural depiction”. Aside from the meatball nose push, it’s the most memorable thing about the film. It’s a huge shame.
Okay, there is no denying that this film is lovely. A super cute cocker spaniel falling in love with a scruffy mongrel. It’s the stuff all great fairy tales are made of. She is the pet living the life of luxury and he’s squatting in the train yard. She is friends with the other dogs in her neighbourhood and he has to save his friends from the dog catcher. It’s your classic Romeo and Julie narrative. Everything is against them but these crazy kids just can’t help themselves.
Unlike the recent remake, the original film is very succinct and to the point. No sense of the self-indulgence hangs over the 2019 film. No aspect of the story is held too long and no side story is given too much time. The supporting characters are introduced well but never dominate. In terms of story-telling, this film is a masterpiece. It does everything it needs to and it gets to exactly the place that we all want. Yeah, it’s all overly sentimental and simplistic but it is a family film. I can forgive it for laying everything on so thick. It goes in full throttle and you kind of have to go with it.
Of course, the only thing really missing is a decent villain. This is such a lovely story but there is never any real danger. The dog catcher in the new film is a pantomime villain but he barely even registers in the original. Then there’s the rat but it’s not quite the same. This film just doesn’t have the same energy to other Disney films. It’s forgettable. It’s not as if it’s joyous but it lacks the sense fun we’re used to. Even the supporting characters aren’t as big and entertaining as we’ve seen before and since. It just kind of feels as though they didn’t really bother with this one. As if someone thought pushing the romance would be enough to cover up the flaws.
I admit that I have a renewed respect for this film after seeing the new one, which tried to force humour and darkness where it wasn’t needed. But I still can’t pretend that I get excited by this film. Although, all of the dogs are bloody cute and I want them all.