Judge Steve Evans won't go to Harlem in ermine and pearls.
Our review of Lady and the Tramp (Blu-ray), published February 13th, 2012, is also available.
She's from the leash and license set…he's footloose and collar free!
Disney's first animated feature in CinemaScope receives the studio's Platinum Edition treatment half a century later on a two-disc set with superb, digitally restored picture and sound to captivate the senses. Charming songs and situations, a childlike sense of wonder and innocence, and a marvelous selection of extras on Disc Two make this an early frontrunner for best DVD release of 2006. Skip the commercials and cue up this deluxe special edition for a lovely bella notte.
Facts of the Case
Pampered cocker spaniel Lady lives the good life with her people, who she knows as Darling and Jim Dear. But Lady is no longer the center of their universe when her masters come home with a baby to occupy their attentions. Soon enough, matters worsen when the couple decides to leave their baby and Lady in the care of nasty Aunt Sarah, who arrives with a pair of twitchy, treacherous Siamese cats.
As the plot begins to clot like day-old dog food, Lady runs away from home and hooks up with Tramp and his friends, a pack of footloose mutts who care only about the "canine necessities." Wait a tick. Make that "bear necessities" from Disney's The Jungle Book. It doesn't matter. Not unlike that classic Kipling adventure that Disney would produce a dozen years later, this Lady and her Tramp find themselves torn—between the Tramp's desire for wanderlust and freedom, and Lady's gnawing sense that there's no place like home. Who can blame her? Toto probably felt the same way.
Lady and her Tramp enjoy several adventures set to song, many of them performed by Peggy Lee, who composed the title track for Johnny Guitar and appeared in scores of television specials well into the 1970s. Her tunes complement the stunning Disney animation and gentle comedy framing a sweet story that blossoms into love during a justly famous spaghetti dinner.
If there is anyone not in diapers who hasn't seen this film, here is the gift to give—a gorgeously realized and refreshingly carefree love story with a genuinely happy ending. There are more than enough troubles in this worrisome world to justify an investment of 76 fleeting minutes in a little animated film that delivers so much in return.
The Disney Studios also deliver the goods in an outstanding two-disc set that features a meticulous restoration of the film to its original Technicolor glory. Viewing options include the original CinemaScope aspect ratio of 2.55:1 or fullscreen (don't deprive yourself), with a new Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix for home theaters. Video shows no signs of artifacts or edge enhancement from the restoration effort. The 5.1 soundstage is vigorous and involving, with good use of the surround channels—mostly for ambient sound effects and the music score—to envelop the viewer in a rich listening experience.
Toddlers could be frightened during one or two scary moments, including a dog fight presented mostly in shadow, but these scenes pass quickly.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
We chased those devious Siamese cats outta town, but a certain world-weary film critic still has this to say:
Modern Disney executives are relentless at shilling product and they are forever releasing new versions of the same films. Disney Studios probably has enough supplemental material moldering in the vaults to release new special editions of its films for another two generations. And when they're not double-, triple-, and quadruple-dipping, the Disney marketers like to disguise commercials as "consumer convenience" features. Witness the promotion of Disney's so-called "Fast Play" feature on its DVDs. Now, a reasonable consumer might infer that "Fast Play" means the disc will zip directly to the main menu from whence the picture can be started immediately, or even launch the film. Oh, no. Deploying the "Fast Play" option merely entitles the buyer of this $30 set (suggested retail price) to accelerate straight into nearly 20 minutes of commercials and promotional material for other Disney products and services, including theme parks, before the film begins. Granted, viewers who are experienced with this sort of chicanery know instinctively that they can hit either the chapter advance or menu buttons on their remotes to access the movie they have paid to own. But the lament remains the same: billing a special feature like "Fast Play" as though it is actually something special is sneaky, at best. At worst, it fuels the sort of consumer irritation that, ironically, only watching the feature film can cure.
Disney is admonished to stop force-feeding commercials on unsuspecting consumers under the guise of non-benefits like Fast Play, which is a bunch of nonsense. After Walt Disney devoted the last 40 years of his life to fostering audience goodwill by producing quality entertainment, the studio that bears his name today has devoted the 40 years since Disney's death to exploiting his legacy in the relentless pursuit of profits that border on the obscene. Succinctly put, when a family invests $30 on a DVD of a classic motion picture, don't subject them to 20 minutes of shrill up-front commercials that push people to buy more product before they can finally watch what they've actually paid to see.
Lady and the Tramp is free to frolic as it wishes. This is a classic animated family film given deluxe treatment with a generous set of extra features.
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