Teacher’s Pet (review)

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The standard I-gotta-be-me theme and Broadway-show packaging of Disney’s animated output gets a snarky makeover in this sporadically amusing big-screen adaptation of the Emmy-award winning Saturday-morning toon, though there’s a weirdly disconcerting moment for every chuckle. Spot (voice by Nathan Lane: Nicholas Nickleby, with an infectious mania) is a cute blue dog with aspirations beyond chasing a stick: he’s been dressing up as a kid and attending school, and now one Dr. Krank (Kelsey Grammer: 15 Minutes, having a ball) uses mad science to transform Spot into the real boy he’s always wanted to be. With its bold, sketchy style, more underground-comic than Mickey Mouse, and its gleefully fractured tunes, the filmmaking team, imported from the TV series, displays a healthy disrespect for revered classics — Disney’s Pinocchio takes a special knocking. But there’s still something to be said for tradition: the rather disturbing human being Spot becomes is perhaps a tad too Crumb for comfort.

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