A few weeks back, Ben and I watched ‘Lady and the Tramp’ for his Misguided Reviews (link to review here). The next day, ‘daughter’ and I decided that as we now have Disney+, we can watch the live action version. Ben had previously been adamant that he would not watch any Disney film out of sequence and would only watch the live actions when he was due to review them (which could be a few years down the line realistically, as there are a vast amount of live action films made by Disney). However, within 5 minutes of the start of the film, lured over by the high-pitched “Awwwww”s from myself and daughter, he quickly succumbed and watched the whole thing with us.
The storyline for the live action is very similar to the original. A pedigree cocker spaniel from the upper-class neighbourhood meets a mongrel and after some disruption at home, runs off with him to be shown what life is like on the other side of the picket fence. If you haven’t seen the original, I highly recommend it.
In line with the current, ‘progressive’ direction that Disney seem to be going in, the film has had a few changes to allow for more diversity in its characters. This has had a mixed response from the fans. The notable changes are:
- ‘Darling’ is now an African American.
- ‘Jock’ is now female.
- The Siamese cats are now Devon Rex cats and the song “We are Siamese” has been replaced with the song, “What a Shame”.
There are a few minor storyline changes, to make the film flow a bit better, but these were the three changes that really caught people’s attention and raised quite a discussion throughout the Disney community…. so, I’m now gonna put my two cents in… and try not to offend anyone (the expression ‘walking on eggshells’ seems appropriate right now).
So, Darling being African American. The biggest argument against this (rather than idiots just whinging “Stop trying to be so politically correct all the time, Disney!” in comments feeds, whilst firstly ignoring all the times that Disney has been the opposite of PC and secondly, how the world is changing and no amount of yelling, in fear of your privilege being taken away from you, is going to change that…. *breathe, Kerry, breathe*) is that Lady and the Tramp is set in 1920’s America, so a black woman would not be married to a white man and that black people in general would not be part of the upper classes. Now, I did also question this when we were watching it and have since concluded that It doesn’t change the film negatively at all. In fact, at least we get to see Jim Dear and Darling fully and that they have more character in this version.
Onto the next ‘issue’. Jock being female. She was voiced by Ashley Jenson, who I feel brings so much character to any role she plays and didn’t disappoint here. Did they need to change Jocks gender? No, he was fine as he was. Did it make the character any worse being female? No. I felt it actually improved the character and gave them more to work with. Why did they change the gender? Don’t know and, frankly, don’t care. Next!
Finally, the last ‘issue’. The Siamese cats being replaced by Devon Rex cats and the song “We are Siamese” being replaced with the song “What a shame. Now, I can see why they did it. “We are Siamese” is quite racist and stereotypes the Siamese (or Thai, as they are now). However, Siamese cats are a breed of cats and I don’t think that they needed to change the breed. Surely the point of these animals is that they are pampered and entitled. Siamese cats, from a visual perspective, work well for these character traits as they are beautiful and are usually pedigree, which means that they would, indeed, be quite pampered in comparison to some felines. It progress’s the storyline well in the original version. They are constantly trying to eat the fish and eat the bird, which results in Lady trying to stop them and when they indicate that they may be heading to the baby’s crib, this leads Lady to get extremely defensive, barking and chasing them, resulting in the cats making it look, to Aunt Sarah, that Lady has attacked them. Due to Lady being a ‘wicked animal’, it is then that Aunt Sarah takes Lady to the pet shop, with the view to having her muzzled. When Lady then panics and escapes the pet shop, Tramp rescues her from some aggressive street dogs, which ignites their relationship. In this version, Devon & Rex, act like interior designers and decide that the house needs ‘redecorating’. Aunt Sarah still thinks that it is Lady that has trashed the house, but there is no indication to anyone that she has attacked the cats. Why Aunt Sarah would put a muzzle on a dog because they trashed the house makes no sense. Surely a muzzle stops a dog from biting. It could still trash a house quite easily with the muzzle still on. Ok, so as my daughter just pointed out (as I read this out to her and Ben), muzzles also stop a dog from barking but, again, still wouldn’t stop them trashing a house. So, in conclusion to my ranty monologue, should have changed the song? Yes. Should they have changed the breed and character of the cats? No. However, once again, does it take away anything from the quality of the film, in my opinion? No. Finally, just a little addition to this point, I actually really enjoyed the song, ‘What a Shame’.
So, in summary, this adaptation was awesome and we all really enjoyed it. As I believe Ben mentioned himself in his Lady and the Tramp review, it made him rethink the really high score that he gave the original because, as much as he loved it, he actually thought the remake was better. Watch it and let me know in the comments what you thought.