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With: Nathan Lane, Kelsey Grammer, Shaun Fleming, Debra Jo Rupp, David Ogden Steirs, Jerry Stiller, Paul Reubens, Megan Mullally, Rob Paulsen, Wallace Shawn
Written by: Bill & Cheri Steinkellner, based on characters by Gary Baseman
Directed by: Timothy Bjorklund
MPAA Rating: PG for some mildly crude humor
Running Time: 74
Date: 01/16/2004

Teacher's Pet (2004)

3 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Teacher's Pet may not be a Disney classic, but it's certainly unique enough to warrant at least a rental, if not a spot in the permanent library. Based on Gary Baseman's bizarre cartoons, which often feature jagged teeth, unsocketed eyes and stretched-out necks, Teacher's Pet is essentially about a dog, Spot (voiced by Nathan Lane), who wants to be a boy. He dresses like a boy and attends school, and is generally smarter than everyone else. Spot has a showbiz-sized ego, but still has something warm and sharply funny about him. The film takes place over summer vacation; Leonard (voiced by Shaun Fleming) and his mom (voiced by Debra Jo Rupp) are caravanning to Florida in a borrowed RV for a teacher-of-the-year competition. Since dogs are not allowed in the van, Spot cooks up a ruse to go along for the ride. His real agenda, though, is to find a mad scientist (voiced by Kelsey Grammer) who claims to be able to turn animals into humans. Teacher's Pet moves fast, aided by a couple of innocuous musical numbers, and the jokes range from silly to snappy to clever. Baseman's art has been toned down for young audiences, but he still gets some of his disturbing trademarks in, such as one of the doc's failed experiments: an alligator turned into a walking, talking creature suffers from one of those faulty eyes that keeps dangling out of its socket.

The disc comes with plenty of extras, such as the half-hour premiere episode of the "Teacher's Pet" TV show, deleted scenes (shown in their original pencil-sketch state), a music video by Christy Carlson Romano, a featurette on Baseman and a song selection. The film is mastered in 1.66-to-1 widescreen and comes with optional Dolby 5.1 or DTS sound.

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