I liked this movie as a kid. The spaghetti meatball scene is classic, the romance is classic, and the movie is undoubtedly classic. But I’m really just misusing the term “classic” to mean that it’s well-known or popularized. Do I think this is a classic in the most distinguished sense of that word? No, I do not.
I have suspicion that maybe Beauty and the Beast has somehow deflated my experience of Lady and the Tramp. I mean, just look at the titles, and look at what each movie revolves around: romance. In a direct comparison, Beauty and the Beast is the far superior choice, but as a stand-alone, Lady and the Tramp holds its own. And especially for the people who grew up with this movie, I bet it was the closest thing to a real Disney hand-animated romance they could get their hands on. And you know what; the animation is pretty good. I would say it’s on par with Peter Pan, which had animation rich enough to back-up its ambitious depiction of Never Land. Of course, the colors are a little softer, which gave it a more mature feel like in Cinderella.
I liked this movie as a kid because I like dogs and dogs are cute. We all have our vices, and I guess that was one of mine growing up. Of course, this is no reason to automatically say this is a great kid’s movie, as kid’s movies have to be for the parents and adults too. I’m just bringing it up to show that I can discern my childhood nostalgia with my adult critiquing, and I hope you can do so too.
The romance isn’t all too interesting. There are some good moments, but most of it is rushed and contrived. I don’t know why the tramp likes the lady. Is it because she’s rich? Is it because she’s pretty? Is it because she’s boring? I mean, seriously, the tramp is always looking for adventure and the lady always resists. And considering how fun the adventure was, why do we want the tramp to settle down with this lady? The tramp never indicated he wanted love, or family, or settling down in a house, and as the most charismatic character of this picture, I couldn’t help but think that he could do better.
But the adventure is fun! I like how the tramp proves that he’s worthy of someone of higher class status through the simple act of tricking a beaver in a zoo; or by tricking human beings, for that matter. The characters, although a bit insensitive, are memorable. Whether they are the evil singing Siamese cats, a wrinkly dog who has lost his sense of smell, or the Italian chefs that cook and sing for the lady and the tramp, you will remember these different species of characters long after you watch the movie. The Disney charm of Bambi’s cast of animals makes a return in this one, and it’s simply delightful. As R. L. Shaffer from IGN DVD said on Rotten Tomatoes:
A somewhat dry, but very good Disney animated effort punctuated by a few Disney-defining classic moments.