Mark Reviews Movies


2 Ĺ Stars (out of 4)

Director: Steve Carr

Cast: Eddie Murphy, Jeffrey Jones, Kevin Pollak, Kyla Pratt, the voices of Norm Macdonald, Lisa Kudrow, Steve Zahn, Molly Shannon

MPAA Rating: PG (for language and crude humor)

Running Time: 1:28

Release Date: 6/22/01

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Review by Mark Dujsik

The first Dr. Dolittle (the update, not the original) was a forgettable comedy. I say that because as I write this review for its sequel, I cannot honestly compare the two. I remember I thought it was funny, although it relied far too much on toilet humor. Thatís a pretty accurate description of Dr. Dolittle 2 also. Itís good-natured and it has funnier moments than most comedies released this year, but its target audience is apparent, and it hardly ever elevates its humor beyond the mindset of a 10 year old.

Thatís not to say I didnít laugh. I did, and the movie is not without its moments. The story places Dolittle (Eddie Murphy) at the height of his popularity. He travels the world to help animals, from two turtles having love problems to a guest appearance on the crocodile hunter show. When the doctor gets a few calls from a Mafia-like group of woodland creatures led by a beaver ("Iím just an ordinary fisherman blessed with many friends."), he meets with the group and learns that the forest they are living in is about to be torn down by an evil timber corporation (are there any other kinds in movies?). Dolittle sympathizes with their plight, and discovers a loophole that could prevent the destruction. The forest is home to the last remaining specimen of a certain species of bear. However, since one bear cannot guarantee the survival of the species, the forest is not protected by endangered species laws. Dolittle finds a circus bear named Archie (voice of Steve Zahn) of the same species, and convinces the judge that he can reintroduce the bear to his environment and get the two to mate.

Most of the humor comes from Dolittleís interaction with Archie. Archieís neurotic and awkward integration into nature provides consistent laughs, and Zahnís voice work is nicely tuned. Itís strange that Murphy does some of his best work interacting with nothing (the Nutty Professor movies and his voice work in Shrek). But even these scenes fall prey to unnecessary toilet humor. Thereís a scene where Dolittle explains the digestive process of bears during hibernation and later the obligatory bathroom scene. However, there are certain times when the movie shows a realization that there will be older members of the audience. These moments come as a relief, but they are too far and in between to satisfy those who have graduated grade school.

Murphyís work is admirable and funny as always, but his performance is too low key to show his full range. To get a better impression of his abilities, one is better off seeing either of the Nutty Professor movies, Shrek, Bowfinger, or even his work on "Saturday Night Live." The majority of recognizable names in the cast provides voices for the animals. Thereís a good level of entertainment value trying to figure out who does some of the voices or hearing someone familiar .

Dr. Dolittle 2 is far less crude than many other comedies released this year, but it still drops to that level more than once. Itís not mean-spirited or disgusting. It may even give families an almost wholly agreeable experience, but anyone without children will find much more enjoyment seeing Spy Kids or, if you want to hear Murphy in top form, Shrek.

Copyright © 2001 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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