Teacher's Pet

Teacher's Pet is a really strange movie. Quality-wise, it is all over the place, good in some parts, horribly bad in others. It is based on the popular cartoon about a dog who pretends to be a boy. Well, this is the movie, so the story has to be bigger, so the dog who wants to be a boy finally gets the chance to really become one. The animation is certainly not groundbreaking, nor is it meant to be. Teacher's Pet looks like some strange underground comic, and it is supposed to look weird. Spot (voiced by Nathan Lane, Nicholas Nickleby, Austin Powers in Goldmember) is the dog in question, and for now, dresses up as a boy and goes to school with his master, Leonard (Shaun Fleming, Jeepers Creepers 2, Operation Splitsville).

One good thing about the film is its smooth transition from the small screen to the big screen. The characters look as weird as ever, and the same people worked on both versions. Director Timothy Bjorklund and writers Bill and Cherie Steinkellner are intimately familiar with Spot, Leonard, and his other pets, so they can do the material justice. The flipside is that they didn't do much of anything different from the normal series. Teacher's Pet the movie feels like an extra special episode of Teacher's Pet the series, not anything special. In fact, the first half of the film is drudgingly slow, and boring beyond belief. It begins with Spot imagining himself as Pinocchio. He can identify with the character, so when he sees a commercial for Krank, a mad scientist (voiced by Kelsey Grammar, Just Visiting, 15 Minutes) who says he can turn pets into stupid humans, he jumps at the chance.

Luckily, Leonard and his mom, Mrs. Helperman (voiced by Debra Jo Rupp, Jackson, Lucky 13) are off to the same place where the scientist is, so he tags along as Scott. Once he changes to an actual human, the story picks up. He wants to be a real boy so he can do all the things that real boys do, but once he is human, he begins to realize that everything is not as fun as he wants, particularly in his relationship with Leonard. They are no longer boy and dog, but boy and creepy man. Spot as a man looks scary. He looks like the type of guy that parents who take their kids to see Teacher's Pet would want them to avoid. And this was probably most likely not on purpose. Still, it has a moral, even though people can see it coming a mile away.

Teacher's Pet is super-short, yet still feels much too long. The songs, however, are quite a treat. Some thought actually went into making them, and they have a certain Broadway feel to them, as different voices slowly coalesce into one chorus. Other songs fall flat, and it's this unevenness that wends its way through the entire film. Teacher's Pet wants to be subversive at some points, and cute at others. The film may be a little too random and strange to appeal to children, and too dull to appeal to adults.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 14 minutes, Rated PG for some mildly crude humor.

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