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Featured Blu-ray Review: Lady and the Tramp

February 7th, 2012

Lady and the Tramp - Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack - Buy from Amazon

The latest Disney cartoon classic to get a Blu-ray release is Lady and the Tramp. The film is close to 60 years old and perhaps times have changed. Or maybe it's considered a classic for a reason. If it is a classic, does the Blu-ray do it justice?

The Movie

The film begins on Christmas in 1909 with Jim giving his wife a puppy for Christmas. They name the cocker spaniel puppy Lady. After her first night in her new home, we flash forward six months when Lady has fully settled in in her new home. We see her fetch the paper, chase off a rat, etc. When she gets her collar, and her license, she shows it to Jock, a Scottish Terrier, and Trusty, an old bloodhound. They treat it as a sign of trust among her family and a sign she's grown up. She has the perfect life in her home with her two owners.

On the other side of the tracks, literally, we meet a different type of dog, Tramp. Tramp is a regular mutt, who lives in the train yard and has to rely on his wits to survive. For food, he begs for bones at a local Italian restaurant. He rescues a couple friends from the dogcatcher, Peg a female Lhasa Apso, and Bull, a male English Bulldog. After being chased by the dogcatcher, Tramp ends up in the high class neighborhood, where the "leash and collar" set live, as he describes them. He wonders how life is in such a neighborhood.

For Lady, life is normally very good, but today she's worried she's done something wrong, as her two owners are ignoring her and they've never done that before. She's not sure what she did wrong. She talks to Jock and Trusty and they know what's happening: her owners are expecting a baby. As Jock and Trusty explain what a baby is, Tramp walks past and gives his opinion of babies. He's not a fan. He explains that when a baby moves in, the dog moves out. Jock and Trusty shoe away Tramp, and when the baby arrives, his warnings prove inaccurate, for the most part.

However, when her two owners have to go away, Aunt Sarah comes to stay and take care of the infant. Aunt Sarah doesn't like dogs and everything Tramp warned Lady about applies to Aunt Sarah. Aunt Sarah would be bad enough, but she brought her two Siamese Cats, Si and Am. After an incident between Lady and the two cats, Aunt Sarah takes Lady to the pet shop to buy her a muzzle. The pet shop owner gets the muzzle on Lady, but she quickly escapes after that. After being chased by a few stray dogs, she's rescued by Tramp. After getting the muzzle off Lady, he decides to show her how the other half lives. The life of a stray dog is a great life. He gets his choice of household to beg for food, but when it's a special occasion, like a big date with a special lady, he always goes to Tony's Italian restaurant.

This brings us to the most iconic scene in the movie, and a good place to end the plot summary. Apparently this movie earned weak reviews when it first came out, but it is now considered a classic. I agree with the prevailing wisdom of today. Yes, the movie is a little schmaltzy at times, but it's a romance, so you have to expect some schmaltz. And yes, the animation is not quite as detailed as some of the other Disney cartoon classics. There are frames of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs or Pinocchio etc. that could be hung in a museum. While the backgrounds are great, the character animation is a little cartoony compared to some of the others of the classics and it doesn't take advantage of such technical marvels as the multi-plane camera to give the animation depth.

However, those minor quibbles aside, Lady and the Tramp does have two great leads and the characters of Lady and Tramp are fully developed and engaging. There is romance, humor, action, and an emotional heart. It is a timeless story that will draw in children and adults, although some adults might look at the ethical stereotypes of some of the side characters as a little dated. The animation is really well done, especially the smooth movement of the many dog characters. It's a must have for fans of cell animation.

The Extras

The Blu-ray has more than two and a half hours of extras from the previous DVD release. ... Two and a half hours. There are several extras that are new to the Blu-ray, starting with an optional a short introduction. There is an audio commentary track created from archive transcripts of story meetings from the development process with actors dramatizing the discussions. Diane Disney Miller: Remembering Dad is an eight-minute look at Walt Disney's career. There are three deleted scenes, and an unrecorded song. You can also watch the movie with Second Screen, if you have a tablet or PC in synch with your PS3.

You can also spend an extras $3 to get the Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack with a Digital Copy.

As for the technical presentation... this movie is close to 60 years old, but you can't tell. Disney did a frame-by-frame restoration of this film and it looks better than a lot of movies made today. It really is that amazing. The level of detail is incredible, the colors are amazing, the blacks are inky as you could want. There's not a hint of print damage or compression artifacts. Simply marvelous and clearly reference level material. The audio is nearly as good. The only reason it is not also reference level material is the lack of activity in the surround sound speakers when compared to movies made today. There is a lot of activity compared to films made before the 7.1 era, including some nice directional effects, and the storm scene with thunder makes great use of the bass. On a scale of 1 to 10, it would be closer to 9.0 than the full 10, but that's still a terrific score.

The Verdict

Lady and the Tramp, Blu-ray debut is a must have and clearly a contender for Pick of the Week. It is as simple as that.

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