Plot: What’s it about?
Spot (voiced by Nathan Lane) is perhaps the world’s smartest dog, to the extent that he tires of the usual canine lifestyle. He doesn’t want to bury bones, chase frisbees, or smell people’s butts, instead he wants to be a human. After all, he is a very smart dog and can even talk, so he seems more natural as a person, as opposed to a pet. In order to feel more like a boy, Spot dresses up like a child and even enrolls in school. He is known as Scott Leadready III and is in the same class as his owner, Leonard. Leonard’s mother is also the teacher of the class, but Spot is so slick, he never stands out, even for a second. The end of school is near, so everyone is hopping to start their summer vacations, even the teachers. Leonard’s mother is taking a trip down to Florida, but Spot and the other pets aren’t invited. The luxury vehicle is not to house any pets, so Spot is left at home with an oblivious pet watcher. But then Spot sees a television show about Dr. Ivan Krank, who claims he can turn animals into humans. This notion is laughed at by the audience, but Spot is so desperate to become a boy, he is determined to visit Krank. And it just so happens that Krank operates out of Florida, so Spot disguises himself and rides with Leonard’s family. But will he find Krank and if so, will his dream be realized at last?
This movie is based on the television series of the same name, which ran for three years and included almost fifty episodes. This motion picture followed two years after the series ended, which means a lot of background is absent. If you’ve seen the television show, then you’ll be up to speed, but newcomers won’t be in on all the jokes. A brief rundown of past events kicks off the movie, but this feels rushed and is thin at best. You can still have fun with the movie if you’ve never seen the show, but fans of the series will get a lot more laughs. Just as a lot of novel adaptations include subtle touches that most people don’t notice, but those who’ve read the book are able to pick up on and enjoy. But in the end, this is an offbeat children’s movie, so the lack of backstory and details isn’t that important. I found the series to be passable, with some great episodes and some lame ones, but this feature film is much more consistent. This is not the usual kiddie movie either, as Teacher’s Pet includes moments that adults will love also. The humor is crude at times, but nothing offensive, though the movie is rated PG. I wouldn’t call this one of the best family films out there, but it is solid and well worth seeking out. Fans of the television show will have the most fun, but Teacher’s Pet is worth at least a rental in all cases.
Video: How does it look?
Teacher’s Pet is presented in 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen. The animation is simple, but fun to watch and in this edition, all the visuals shine thanks to a top notch treatment. I was dazzled by the colors in this treatment, as the hues seem to stream across the screen at times, without even a hint of errors. The same holds true with the contrast, which sparkles with stark black levels and very high detail throughout. I simply cannot say enough about how gorgeous this presentation is, as the visuals are stunning at all times. A couple of minor issues surface, but they’re so small, they don’t even faze this superb visual treatment.
Audio: How does it sound?
This movie didn’t make much noise at the box office, but it sounds awesome here, thanks to Disney’s extra effort. You’ll find both Dolby Digital and DTS options, which means both camps can be satisfied. I prefer the DTS track in this case, as it has a little more crispness and boom at times, but whichever one you choose, you’ll be pleased. The surround channels won’t be used much, but the basic elements remain well presented, thanks to good front channel presence. All the screams, clangs, yells of pain, and other sound effects come through just fine, so every punch, flame, bonk, and such are easy to hear. The music has some nice moments of movement and dynamic presence, but don’t expect the world from this mix. The main focus is on dialogue and it sounds terrific here, no complaints to lodge in the least. This disc also includes English subtitles, in case you need to use those at some point.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes the pilot episode from the television series, a brief look at the visual style of Teacher’s Pet, and a Christy Carlson Romano music video. Too bad this couldn’t have gotten a deluxe two disc Special Edition, like some of Disney’s higher profile animated releases, as this could have been an awesome release.