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Leonard is a 4th grader; his mother, Mrs. Mary Lou Helperman, is his teacher, and has been nominated for a teaching award. They plan a trip to Florida for the finals, but need to leave their dog, Spot, behind. Unknown to Mrs. Helperman, Spot has been masquerading as a boy, Scott, who is her star pupil. Spot wants nothing more than to be a real boy, and sees a way to this when mad scientist Ivan Krank appears on the Barry Anger show. Krank thinks he can turn animals into humans. Conveniently, his lab is right down the street from where the Helpermans are staying, so Spot, as Scott (and the rest of his family) convinces Mary Lou to take him along. Spot becomes a man, but discovers it's not everything he ever dreamed of after all.Written by
Jon Reeves <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I went to see this film on its opening weekend for three reasons. Firstly, I felt like seeing a movie that day. Secondly, I am a fan of the TV series "Teacher's Pet" which concerns the exploits of a dog named Spot who dresses up as a boy because he wants to go to school. And thirdly, I wanted to do my part to pad the opening weekend box office of a Disney traditional animation film.
This comes about a week after the news that the company was shutting down their Orlando animation department, where the bulk of traditional animation is done for Disney, because they wanted to focus on computer-animated films. It is worth noting that, without Pixar (whose contract with Disney expires after two more films) Disney has yet to make ONE CG movie.
But, this film is not only a hilarious and enchanting story to entertain children of all ages (19, since you asked), it is a love letter to the rich legacy of Disney animation. Full to bursting with affectionate jabs at such classics as "101 Dalmatians," "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," and "Pinocchio."
Indeed, the film opens with a parody of this last film, in which Spot finds himself wishing he could be a real boy, and the motif continues throughout. Simply pretending to be a boy isn't enough for him, he wants the real deal. He sees his chance with Ivan Krank (voiced over the top and beyond by `Frasier' star Kelsey Grammer) a `wacko' scientist who claims he can turn animals into humans. Spot travels to Florida and undergoes the procedure, only to become a full-grown MAN, not a boy! This is a momentous day for Spot (or `Scott' as he disconcertingly calls himself when he's in human garb) but not so for his nine-year-old master, Leonard Helperman, who just wants a dog to play with.
Needless to say, but I will anyway, Leonard and Spot become a boy and his dog again and everyone gets what they deserve, all the ingredients for a happy ending. And indeed you would have to look far and wide for a family film more bright and joyful. The songs are beautifully written with clever lyrics and, again in the Disney tradition, exist to move the story along, as it should be for all musical comedies.
I would, however, use discretion in taking my family to this film. Though it's PG rated and definitely suitable for children, those with weaker constitutions (or more protective parents.I won't name names, you know who you are) might not be ready to see the results of Spot's transformation. It gets a little dark by the third act, but certainly no darker than any other animated film of late. And, ideally, there would be more in Act One to help those unfamiliar with the dynamic of the TV series, though you'll definitely enjoy it anyway.
The real strength of this film is in the voice cast, including series regulars Nathan Lane (as the super-intelligent dog himself), Jerry Stiller (as the bird), David Ogden Stiers (as the cat) and Shaun Fleming and Debra Jo Rup (as Leonard and his mother, who also happens to be his teacher. Unfortunate, no?) and new comedic talents such as Paul Ruebens, Megan Mullay and `Seinfeld's' Estelle Harris.
In conclusion, though it's nowhere near as good as the best of Disney, it's still better than anything Dreamworks has ever done.except maybe for `Chicken Run,' but come on! That's stiff competition that is.
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