Netflix this: ‘Lady and the Tramp’

Picture this: Christmas 1986. My parents, in a festive mood, decide to take the entire family (all seven of us) to the movies. I, of course, am beyond enthusiastic, because any opportunity to see a movie in the theater must be seized. The movie? An American Tail, the (non-Disney) animated adventure of a family of mice emigrating from Russia to America. Was I terribly excited to see it? Not particularly. Hell, it could have been an hour and a half of talking heads and I would have wanted to see it. (Such was/is my obsession with movies; sometimes it doesn’t matter what I watch, just that I’m watching.)

We arrived at the mall, which was quite a drive away from our home. The mall, in my nine-year-old eyes, had the luxury of having two multiplexes within it, one at each end. To our dismay, An American Tail was sold out. We would have to turn around and go home. But that was a fate I could not accept. I was seeing a movie, dammit!

As a kid I would scour the movie listings in the newspaper everyday. If there ever was a movie emergency and we had to go to a movie right then and there, I would save the day and and know the show times. My years of preparation was about to pay off; I knew that Lady and the Tramp was playing at the other theater at the other end of the mall.

I successfully convinced my parents to take the family to that instead, even though we had to wait about an hour for the next show time. Did I remember the movie? No, not really. But that sweet satisfaction of getting what I wanted has lasted all these years.

Fast forward to Summer 2009. I rent Lady and the Tramp from Netflix because I can. And now, nearly 23 years after seeing it for the first time, I discover how wonderful this movie really is.

The theatrical poster from the 1986 re-release.  Courtesy IMPAwards.com

The theatrical poster from the 1986 re-release. Courtesy IMPAwards.com

What’s it about? Lady and the Tramp tells the rather simple story of a cocker spaniel named Lady (whaaaa?!), who possesses what every dog should: loving owners, a warm house, and a fancy collar with ID, which ensures that if she is lost of caught by the pound, she’ll be returned to her owners.

Lady goes through an identity crisis when her owners, “Jim, Dear” and “Darling,” have a baby and her quality time with the new parents diminishes.

Months later, “Jim Dear” and “Darling” go away on a vacation, leaving the baby with Aunt Sarah, an old, dog-hating woman who believes her Siamese cats are absolute angels, but really cause a lot of problems for Lady. (Thus reinforcing the universal truth: cats are evil.)

Aunt Sarah, under the false impression that Lady has injured her cats, puts a muzzle on the dog, which sends Lady into a panic. She escapes from Sarah, spends some time in the pound, and gets acquainted with Tramp, a Mutt from—you guessed it—the wrong side of the tracks, with whom she falls in love.

What’s good about it? The animation is absolutely beautiful. The animators captured the canine movements so expertly. There’s also so real emotion to this film; if you’ve ever had a dog, you might even get a little choked up.

What’s bad about it? Some parts might be too dark for really young viewers.

Perfect for: Disney fans, dog enthusiasts.

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