'Lady and the Tramp': What the Critics Are Saying

Most agree that the live-action remake falls flat in comparison to the 1955 animated film.

The reviews are in for the Disney+ adaptation of Lady and the Tramp.

The live-action remake of the 1955 classic stars Tessa Thompson as Lady and Justin Theroux as Tramp, with Janelle Monáe, Ashley Jensen and Benedict Wong also included in the voice cast. Additionally, Kiersey Clemons and Thomas Mann play the human stars, Darlin and Jim Dear. Charlie Bean directed the remake.

The film — which has received a 64 percent rating from Rotten Tomatoes — follows a budding romance between upper-middle-class American cocker spaniel Lady and street-smart, downtown stray Schnauzer Tramp. The two embark on many romantic adventures, including the famous spaghetti kissing scene from the original.

The Hollywood Reporter's John DeFore called the film "the dullest to date of the live-action (or quasi-live) remakes of beloved Disney animated films." He wrote that the "human actors' voices often don't even seem to be coming from the dogs' mouths; and when they do, the actor's personality and the canine's face rarely fuse to create an engaging character," though he added that "Theroux seems to work harder than anybody in the voice cast; but the real dog onscreen has none of the charm of 1955's scrappy mutt." DeFore concluded that the pic becomes more involving as it continues, "though some elements that might've been memorable (a musical number from a dog played by Janelle Monáe, for instance) fall flat."

IGN's Jim Vejvoda agreed that the remake fell flat compared to the original, though "the film itself still manages to be a charming and cute family-friendly time-passer." Vejvoda complimented the realistic depiction of the dogs and wrote, "The dogs’ mouths and faces are animated just enough to make them expressive, but they still behave and move as real dogs would." He added, "Tessa Thompson and Justin Theroux imbue their canine characters with personality and charm," while "Mann and Clemons channel old-timey earnestness but are left without much else to play as Lady’s owners." The critic concluded, "Disney+’s Lady and the Tramp makes a few key changes to the original’s plot and characters but overall doesn’t do too much different to explain why one should choose to watch this version rather than the original animated classic."

Matt Singer from ScreenCrush wrote that Lady and the Tramp is "harmless and pointless." He added that the pic is a "marginal step up" from Disney's live-action adaptation of The Lion King, which had the characters made entirely with CGI. "At least the dogs in Lady in the Tramp are real, and when they’re not replaced by talking CGI doubles, they exhibit some true dog character in the way they walk and interact and sit at attention," asserted Singer. Similar to other critics, Singer found the remake unnecessary. "I'm not entirely sure why it exists, beyond refreshing this particular IP, reminding customers about the original movie, and slightly padding out Disney+’s lineup of 'original' offerings," he wrote.

Insider's Kristen Acuna called the film a "good update," but also said that "it feels like a straight-to-video movie." Explained the critic, "As a whole, the film doesn't feel up to par with the levels we've come to expect from a big Disney adaptation. … Otherwise, some of the humor is a little too cheesy and is obviously aimed toward smaller children. It's those elements that make it feel like more of a dumbed-down TV movie."

However, CheatSheet's Fred Topel called Lady and the Trump a "strong" effort for Disney+. "Usually when a new content creator emerges, there’s a learning curve before they can start crafting quality films. Disney+ comes out of the gate (or bandwidth?) strong with Lady and the Tramp," he wrote. "It probably helps that they’re Disney. They have experience making movies and TV shows prior to launching their own service. Now you can get their studio quality movies right in your home."

SlashFilm's Josh Spiegel simply branded the pic "adequate" — and unfavorably compared it to other live-action Disney remakes that received theatrical releases. He elaborated, "Though the service itself is designed to hopefully make Disney lots of money, what would the point be of a film like this, one of many that you can watch once the service is available? It can’t make Lion King money or even Dumbo money. The best thing to say about Lady and the Tramp ‘19 is that it’s tolerable, more so than the other Disney remakes released this year. But that’s not saying a whole lot."

Meanwhile, Comicbook.com's Matthew Aguilar found the updated Lady and the Tramp charming. "There was quite a bit of care that went into recreating this classic for a new and modern audience, and it shows. The voice cast instills each pup with ample personality, especially Thompson and Theroux, who also find a way to bring real conflict and vulnerability to both their characters," he wrote. "The timeless story gets just enough modern touches to make it feel fresh once more, and you'll feel just about every emotion before the credits roll. Lady and the Tramp captures the heart and charm of the original and adds a whole new layer of wonder and hope for a brand-new audience, and no Disney fan will want to miss out on experiencing it firsthand."

CinemaBlend's Dirk Libbey also noted the movie's endearing qualities. "While the characters might be dogs, all the standard elements of your romantic comedy formula are here." he pointed out. "The meet cute, the initial disinterest by one party, the event that throws them together, the blooming relationship seemingly ended by a misunderstanding. ... It's your standard rom-com formula, but the fact that we're watching animals go through it at least changes things up a bit. The only other thing a rom-com needs is the comedy part, and Lady and the Tramp is surprisingly funny."

Evan Dossey of the Midwest Film Journal called Lady and the Tramp "good enough," proffering that its most redeeming feature is the use of real-life dogs and outstanding CGI. "The CGI mouth movements when the animal heroes speak lends the whole affair a level of unreality that was problematic for The Lion King earlier this year but isn’t too distracting here. The Lion King took itself far too seriously whereas this (thankfully) does not. A large part of the tonal success belongs to Theroux, who probably would’ve used the same voice if he was wearing a dog costume," Dossey wrote. "It’s a mixture of exaggerated excitement and self-aware absurdity that really lands."