Lady and the Tramp Parent Guide
A classic tale retold, but without charm.
Parent Movie Review
Lady (voiced by Tessa Thompson) is a cocker spaniel who lives comfortably with her owners, Jim Dear and Darling (played by Thomas Mann and Kiersey Clemons). When a new baby arrives, Lady’s world is turned upside down. She meets a stray dog named Tramp (voiced by Justin Theroux) and they embark on an adventure where they both learn about loyalty, love, and family.
As is the case with most 90s kids, I grew up with a bookshelf full of Disney VHS tapes. The original 1955 Lady and the Tramp was one of those movies, but it was never a favorite for my siblings and I, which means that it doesn’t strum the same nostalgia cord in me that it might for some. It’s been well over a decade since I last saw it, so I went into this remake with only a vague remembrance of the original. Some parts of this film stirred long forgotten memories of bits of dialogue or plot points. I think it’s very similar to the original, though I couldn’t say exactly how much is a carbon copy. I do know that they cut out the racist cat song, so that’s something.
I’m going to start with the positive, because it won’t take long. Casting Sam Elliott as Trusty the bloodhound was the best choice made in this production because he steals any scene he’s in. Ken Jeong shows up for about 60 seconds, which is also a highlight.
And now for the long part: the negatives. This film is a period piece in the most obnoxious way possible. Every shot hits you over the head yelling, “It! Is! Nine! Teen! Ten!” Because maybe if you’re distracted by Victorian wallpaper and Ford Model Ts you won’t notice how creepy the talking dogs are. Some of the animals are less unsettling than others. Tramp looks believably life like, at least to a point where I could watch him without feeling uncomfortable. Lady is a different story. There’s something about the way her face moves as she speaks that made my ancient monkey brain feel like I needed to climb a tree in order to feel safe again. The cats are even worse. Seriously, when will movie studios learn? Cartoon talking animals are fine, realistic talking animals are not. The narrative overall feels lazy and charmless; musical numbers come out of nowhere and feel out of place, the pacing is uneven, the dog romance feels forced and emotionless. I spent the first half of the movie just waiting for the iconic spaghetti scene and then the remainder checking my watch.
All that said, is it the most terrible children’s movie I’ve ever seen? No. Is it a bland, heartless remake designed to capitalize on nostalgia? Yes. But if you just need something safe you can throw on for kids without having to worry about content, this will do the job.
Quotes from my three-year-old: “Dogs don’t talk!” “Look, Mom! They’re eating pasketti!”Directed by Charlie Bean. Starring Tessa Thompson, Justin Theroux, Sam Elliott. Running time: 103 minutes. Updated February 15, 2020
Watch the trailer for Lady and the Tramp
Lady and the Tramp
Rating & Content Info
Why is Lady and the Tramp rated PG? Lady and the Tramp is rated PG by the MPAA for some mild thematic elements and action/peril.
Violence: Tramp is shown bleeding lightly after a fight with a rat.
Sexual Content: None
Alcohol / Drug Use: Some men are briefly seen drinking at a party.
Page last updated February 15, 2020
Lady and the Tramp Parents' Guide
Why did Tramp’s family abandon him? Is that the most responsible choice they could have made? What are some things we can do to make sure that fewer dogs end up on the street? What can you do to help abandoned pets?
Four Paws International: Ways to Prevent Cruelty to Animals
One Green Planet: 10 Ways to Help End Pet Homelessness
California SPCA: 10 Ways to Decrease the Number of Stray Animals
HuffPost: Is Your Child Ready for a Pet?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
Movie fans who want to read the book that inspired the film should find a copy of Dodie Smith’s The 101 Dalmatians.
Kids who enjoy mischievous dogs will get a kick out of Gene Zion’s Harry the Dirty Dog and Daniel Postage’s Smelly Bill. Early readers will love following Beverly Cleary’s mischievous titular canine in Ribsy. They will also appreciate the courage of a sled dog who carries medicine across the Alaska wilderness in Natalie Stanford’s early reader, The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto.
Kevin O’Malley tells the story of a girl choosing a dog in The Perfect Dog. Sangmi Ko tells the story of a girl who finds a stray dog in A Dog Wearing Shoes. Even pre-readers will enjoy Chris Raschka’s wordless book, A Ball for Daisy.
Related home video titles:
If you want the story with a bit more charm and no creepy CGI talking dogs, check out the 1955 animated classic version of Lady and the Tramp.
A dog takes a superhero role – at least in his own mind – in Bolt.