Spot the Dog is so curious about the world that he has taught himself how to talk and read, and then sneaks to school with his master, Leonard, where he poses as a human.
It actually seems a sadly appropriate exercise of corporate short-sightedness that, just after Disney announced it was shutting down its Florida-based animation studios and bringing to a close the era of hand-drawn animation, the studio releases "Teacher's Pet." This marvelously quick-witted and gloriously goofy hand-drawn feature shows that there's still more than 21 grams of life left in the form. It helps when the drawn stuff has a touch of individuality, and the artist Gary Baseman — creator of both the Saturday morning cartoon show and this sure-footed, blessedly swift movie that was derived from it — couldn't be more idiosyncratic. Nathan Lane's shameless vocal theatrics is a perfect fit for the character he voices, Spot, a relentlessly chatty blue dog whose ambition to be a human boy instead of a doggy is realized by slipping into a pair of shorts, a bright yellow short-sleeved shirt and a pair of glasses. When Spot hears about Dr. Krank (Kelsey Grammer), the mad scientist who has perfected the technology of turning animals into humans, he scampers off to Florida to undergo treatment. "Teacher's Pet" will reward your close attention with a gratifyingly high ratio of humor. It gets more laughs out of 74 minutes than many recent live-action comedies with much more time. — Elvis Mitchell
2004-01-16 | Elvis Mitchell | Read the New York Times Review of Disney's Teacher's Pet