Teacher's Pet

"Excellent"

Teacher's Pet Review


I have a hard time deciding whether or not I like Nathan Lane. Since he starred in The Birdcage almost a decade ago, he seems to have adopted an overblown, theatrical presence to whatever role he's playing. Call it Al Pacino Syndrome: when a talented actor finds success with a certain type of performance and then refuses to evolve regardless of the script.

That unwavering acting style can prove beneficial from time to time. Pacino's bellicose antics served him well in Michael Mann's overrated journalism epic The Insider and Lane's motivational speaker/Broadway crooner delivery proves to be a perfect fit in Disney's Teacher's Pet, an animated TV series that comes to the big screen with humor, heart and songs aplenty.

Lane provides the voice of Spot, a blue dog, who talks and acts like a person. He even goes to school with his master, Leonard, and passes himself off as successful elementary school student Scott. However, Spot longs to be a boy. As Leonard and his mom travel to Florida, a depressed Spot learns of a Florida quack (Kelsey Grammer) who claims to have a way of changing animals into humans.

Without regard for the doctor's sanity, Spot hightails it to Florida, finds Leonard and his mom, and looks into living his dream. Spot eventually finds the doctor and with a little prodding, gets his wish, though dog years complicate matters. This old (ex) dog then has to learn some new tricks, including fitting into a different society and dealing with Leonard's conflicted feelings.

I'm making a kids' movie sound like an episode of The Twilight Zone, but it's more Raffi than Rod Serling. Teacher's Pet highlights a lot of life lessons -- being brave, being a friend, being yourself -- in songs that are catchy and not too moralizing. The animation is bright, creative, and brisk. Most importantly, adults won't be looking at their watches. Credit must be given to screenwriters Bill and Carrie Steinkellner for cramming lots of quick jokes for adults to appreciate, without isolating the kids. One example: Spot, tired of being stuck with the song- happy Leonard and his mom, refers to himself as "Van Trapped."

The voice work is also terrific, with Lane and Grammer singing songs and delivering lines with gusto. Grammer is very good in the villain role, which his baritone voice has spent years perfecting on The Simpsons. As a result, he straddles the line between evil and self-mockery perfectly. Lane's exuberant line readings are ideal for the movie, but he also shows tremendous flexibility. Check out the scene where he imitates in quick succession a little girl, an Irish uncle, a Southern belle, and a bitter old woman. Kids and adults will both appreciate the goofiness.

With 11 months to go and two major movie seasons awaiting us, it's doubtful that Teacher's Pet will be the best animated feature of the year. But during the dark days of winter when the multiplex's offerings look as appetizing as a foot of snow, Teacher's Pet is a most welcome option for families.

DVD extras include storyboard versions of deleted scenes, the premiere episode of the Pet TV series, and a handful of other making-of items.

She's gotta be she.



Teacher's Pet

Facts and Figures

Run time: 120 mins

In Theaters: Tuesday 1st April 1958

Distributed by: Paramount Home Video

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Fresh: 4 Rotten: 1

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Timothy Björkland

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.