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Lady and the Tramp I & II

Lady and the Tramp (February 27/06)

Though Lady and the Tramp ultimately comes off as a fairly inconsequential and somewhat overrated piece of work, there's no denying the film's effectiveness in terms of its lush animation and the palpable sense of congeniality with which it's been imbued. The story revolves around the unlikely friendship that forms between a pampered pooch named Lady and the homeless, wisecracking Tramp. Lady's comfortable lifestyle with a well-to-do couple is interrupted following the birth of their cranky baby, a problem that's exacerbated by the arrival of a dog-hating aunt and her two evil siamese cats. After a close call with the local dogcatcher, Lady teams up with Tramp and embarks on a whirlwind tour of the city's underbelly. Lady and the Tramp certainly succeeds in evoking various emotions from the viewer, thanks to its unapologetically manipulative screenplay (by Erdman Penner, Joe Rinaldi, Ralph Wright, and Don DaGradi). The film shamelessly tugs at the heartstrings with its sickly-sweet storyline, but such antics are generally easy to swallow due largely to the skill with which this admittedly simple story has been told. Likewise, there's no escaping the feeling that the movie has been geared primarily towards younger viewers - what with its emphasis on broad physical shenanigans and a preponderance of telegraphed plot twists. Still, there's a certain charm to the film that's difficult to resist - particularly with regards to the relationship between the titular characters. The lack of overly comedic supporting characters lends the film a relatively mature vibe, especially when compared with some of Disney's more recent efforts.

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Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure (June 13/06)

Lady and the Tramp II is about as superfluous a sequel as the Disney studio has ever offered up, and yet the movie never quite sinks to the level of flat-out inadequacy. While fans of the original will probably find something here worth embracing, there's simply no overlooking the general feeling of needlessness that permeates every aspect of the proceedings. The storyline revolves around the misadventures that ensue after Scamp, Lady and the Tramp's son, runs away from home and hooks up with a band of mischievous junkyard dogs. Though there are a few instances of obtrusive computer effects, Lady and the Tramp II is - if nothing else - actually quite well animated and a superficially appropriate companion to its predecessor (visually speaking, at least). The subplot in which Scamp tentatively pursues a romance with fellow pooch Angel is essentially a carbon-copy of Tramp's relationship with Lady in the original, complete with a redux of the famous eating-pasta sequence. In the end, Lady and the Tramp II never quite justifies its existence - although, admittedly, it could've been a whole lot worse (ie The Return of Jafar).

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About the DVD: Lady and the Tramp arrives on DVD as a new "50th Anniversary Edition," armed with a flawless widescreen transfer and a whole host of bonus features (including a 52-minute documentary on the making of the film, deleted scenes, storyboards, assorted promotional materials, and much more). Lady and the Tramp II features a crisp letterboxed transfer, and a few bonus features (a behind-the-scenes featurette, a commentary track, etc).
© David Nusair