For those who haven't heard, I'm going to be an uncle soon! My sister's first child (a boy) is due May 20th. The downside is that her and her husband's dog, who though not well-trained is friendly and loveable, will get the ol' heave-ho as a result. It's a shame especially since he didn't do anything wrong himself and won't even realize why he had to leave his owners. This is what helps me take to heart the main theme of Lady and the Tramp. It is a story of the confusion and fear of possibly being emotionally replaced. Not so much the love story between a sheltered lady dog and a streetwise mutt, as the trailers and promos and title would want you to think. Sure, Tramp plays a pivotal part in what would happen to her, but really only by way of being a love interest and coming to the rescue at the right time, which makes him more or less a Disney prince, just without the royalty. Yet the movies weren't called Cinderella and Prince Charming or Sleeping Beauty and Prince Phillip or The Little Mermaid and Prince Eric or well you get the point.* As far as Disney princes so far, though, Tramp at least has a personality to speak of! Touch too arrogant for me to call him "likeable," but barring that he is and does a great job of carrying the story along. But no, this isn't really a love story as much as a story that happens to have a love-ish element added. I'm not even sure if her meeting Tramp was necessary for anything other than making the film longer. It couldn't be for Lady to learn the importance of leaving her cushy
life to explore the world outside of her own home, since, well...in the
end she doesn't do that at all! Was it for Tramp to learn the lesson
that living a leashed life is pretty sweet? No, no no. If there is a
lesson to be found anywhere it only works to ignore the
differing-classes theme and focus on how, hey, a new human in the
household seems scary and threatening at first but you'll get used to it
and things will be back to a comfortable new normal soon. And the whole Tramp thing, well, that's just a separate story that happens to collide with the first one near the end. Just like a typical Seinfeld episode!
In the final scene Jim says, "Where did you put the dog biscuits? You know, the box Aunt Sarah sent for Christmas?" Is it meant to mean that Aunt Sarah has changed her ways by then? I guess it's nice to know that she no longer hates Lady, but it would be nicer to be given an explanation of why, rather than just this cryptic and easy-to-miss clue. Maybe she just felt bad about having lost Lady and is now in Jim Dear and Darling's debt? Or something else happened that we can only imagine, like having discovered her cats to be the horrid nasty things they are? Your guess is as good as mine.
*Beauty and the Beast being an exception, but we'll get to that later in the year.
-What was up with that scene where Jock and Trusty try to propose to Lady? How would that have worked, as far as their humans are concerned? Think about it.
-It makes more sense that Tramp would become part of the Dear/Darling household since no one would lose a dog in that transaction, and it was largely the Dear/Darlings' decision. But here's a question: What do they call their new mutt? Do they serendipitously name him "Tramp" because of his history, or confuse things by giving him a new name? Now that I think of it, I'm not sure if any of the dogs in the picture actually called him "Tramp" as a name (as I have been), rather than just calling him the tramp, so maybe this is all a moot point. Speaking of names given to the dogs, it may seem condescending for Tramp to constantly call Lady "Pidge" or
"Pigeon," until you realize the alternative is to call her "Lady,"
which also sounds condescending when you put it into use at that level.
Favorite character: Tramp makes me want to own a dog just like him.
Characters that are admittedly necessary to the plot but that I did not like at all: Damn those cats. They're not villains I "love to hate," they're
villains I'm bothered at the existence of. Does Aunt Sarah not notice
them causing the same sort of messes and ruckus at her house? Or worse,
do the cats only act that way when they have the chance to pin it on
another animal? And they might as well have been named Ching and Chong,
or something. The Asian stereotyping almost makes you seem more comfortable with the Scottish, Mexican and Italian stereotypes.
Overall: I'd just like to end my part by saying that Amanda and I have eaten at Tony's Restaurant and it was a fantastic experience, and dare I say a more enjoyable experience than its claim to fame moviesake.
Lady and the Tramp is a lot of things and among those things I think we can all agree that it's a period piece. While the story is engaging, the voice casting perfect, the pace brisk, the design precise, and the music hummable, I think it's the careful honing of all these elements that makes this movie very nearly a slice of life. While none of us ever grew up at the turn of the century, we can relate in small ways to our heroes and supporting characters. Does the newspaper still come to your door via bicycling youth? Do you still wash cloth diapers by hand and hang them out on the line? Are your shoes buttoned to the very top?
I don't think I can add much more to the very astute statements Kevin makes above. What we have in this movie is a story in which many unrelated characters merely cross paths and those crossings change the outlooks of each of them. Lady discovers the unleased life, but hates it prefering her owners over her lover. Jock and Trusty (and perhaps Aunt Sarah) realize that they are horrible classist elitists and feel shame for it. Tramp sees that the happiness of a carefree, cage-free life has its limits. And Jim Dear catches pneumonia finding hugely out of season watermelons at the turn of the century but knows it's worth it for a blond blue-eyed baby boy.
Favorite Character: Joe. Poor Joe. He has such an Italian design and it's ruined by such an American name.
Least Favorite Character: I am in complete agreement with Kevin. WOW I hate those cats! Racist, mean, grammatical messes they both are!
Overall: Too much good music and too much good design for any apparent flaws to ruin my good time.
- Just for the record in response to Kevin's "Tramp" name dropping perplexity: The dogs in the pound call him "THE Tramp." Perhaps he had a name and perhaps he didn't. All we really know is that he is clearly the only trampish dog of note in the tri-county area.
Craft time! .... Is it weird to make a plate of spaghetti? Oh well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.