Release: 2001, 20th Century Fox Starring: Eddie Murphy, Kristen Wilson, Jeffrey Jones, Raven-Symone Starring: (voice talents) Steve Zahn, Lisa Kudrow, Norm MacDonald, Michael Rapaport Director: Steve Carr MPAA Rating: [PG] language, sexuality Genre: Comedy/Family
When their forest is threatened by land developers, a band of animals solicits the help of the legendary Dr. Dolittle (Murphy), a veterinarian with the ability to talk to animals.
funnier animals than the first installment
solid performance from Eddie Murphy
the most boring animals get the most screentime
far too many scenes involving urine
All in all, Dr. Dolittle 2 is more entertaining than its predecessor thanks to funnier animals and a solid performance from Eddie Murphy. Whereas the first Dolittle installment focused on the emergence of his newfound gift to speak to the animals, this sequel can turn its attention to a more traditional story. That's not to say Dolittle 2 features any great or original script. Indeed, it's a typical sitcom standard where the Bradys or the Keatons or any other 30-minute American family has to save their favorite natural habitat from evil construction workers. But even such a pedestrian premise is more befitting a family film than an hour and a half of Dolittle exploring his unique power. Instead of focusing on the rather pointless premise of why he can talk to the animals, we instead take his ability for granted and get on with things.
When the local woods are threatened by land developers, its inhabitants ask for help from Dr. Dolittle. To these ends, a group of animals comically organized like an Italian crime family send Joey the Raccoon (one of the funniest characters in the movie by far, voiced by Michael Rapaport) to get the good doctor. Dolittle reluctantly gets involved, and Joey takes him back to the woods to meet "The Godbeaver." Together, they all devise a plan to save the forest. If Dolittle can get two rare Pacific Western bears to mate, then the forest will be declared a habitat for endangered species and made off limits to the developers.
Dolittle finds two such potential throwrugs: a circus performing bear named Archie and a forest dwelling she-bear named Ava. The problem is that Ava wants a "real man" who can provide for her, not a creampuff city bear like Archie. So for the whole movie, Dolittle and Archie scheme to get Ava to fall for Archie.
Dr. Dolittle 2's biggest asset is its cast of supporting animals. Rapaport's Joey the Raccoon, a drunk French monkey who can't stop hitting the bottle, and a delusional chameleon named Pepito steal the show. A slew of celebrities lend their voices in cameos scattered throughout the film: Kevin Pollak, Isaac Hayes, Andy Dick, Joey Lauren Adams, Michael McKean, Cedric the Entertainer, Molly Shannon, John Witherspoon, Mandy Moore, Frankie Muniz, and even Arnold Schwarzenegger, who parodies himself so well that it sounds like someone else doing a Terminator impression.
Ironically, the three animal stars who get the most screentime are the ones who are the least interesting. Archie and Ava, voiced by Steve Zahn and Lisa Kudrow respectively, are a fairly boring bear pair. (Do any Friends and Mad About You fans out there agree with me that Kudrow's bear should have appropriately been named Ursula?) And Norm MacDonald, who returns as the voice of Dolittle's pet dog Lucky, brings nothing but stale jokes mostly involving animalistic habits of marking territory. Which brings up another serious annoyance in Dr. Dolittle 2--this movie has a severe obsession with urine. There is an unhealthy number of scenes involving spraying animals, something I don't find particularly interesting.
Meanwhile, Dolittle offers a teen melodrama involving the doctor's oldest daughter, who is saddled with a load of adolescent problems. Trying desperately to break away from her parents, she grudgingly discovers she is more like her old man than she would care to admit. The story, again, seems like it's lifted from a family sitcom, but so's the rest of the movie, pretty much. At least it's all kept in context.
Rating: 6 out of 10 (0=Abysmal, 5=Average, 10=Excellent)