Picks and Pans Review: Teacher's Pet

updated 01/26/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/26/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

ANIMATED

Voices by Nathan Lane, Kelsey Grammer

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Nathan Lane is up to his old tricks—namely stealing the show—playing a sly dog in this peppy comic cartoon. He provides most of the movie's laughs as the voice for Spot, a talking canine who, inspired by Pinocchio, longs to be a real boy. This wisecracking pooch passes for human by concealing his ears beneath a cap, donning clothes, walking upright and just saying no to kibble. When the chance to turn into a real human comes along, courtesy of an experimental device created by a scary mad scientist (Grammer), Spot jumps.

The lesson to be learned here, because there is always a lesson in kids' cartoons, is that one should be happy just being who—or what—one is. Based on a former ABC Saturday-morning and now Toon Disney TV show, Teacher's Pet is drawn in an aggressively flat style, is dotted with visual jokes and features catchy musical numbers brimming with campy lyrics, as when Spot warbles, "What is it with this family and singing?/ I'm starting to feel von Trapped." (PG)

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