|Dr. Dolittle 2|
dir Steve Carr|
scr Larry Levin
with Eddie Murphy, Kristen Wilson, Raven-Simone, Kyla Pratt, Lil' Zane, Kevin Pollak, Jeffrey Jones, Steve Irwin
voices Norm MacDonald, Steve Zahn, Lisa Kudrow, Michael Rapaport
release US 22.Jun.01; UK 27.Jul.01
Fox 01/US 1h27
Eddie Murphy continues his two-pronged career, alternating family films with rougher fare. And here he follows up one of his most popular incarnations, which actually has very little to do with the real Dr Dolittle--never mind, he's a doctor who talks to the animals. This time woodland creatures come to him for help in saving the forest from nasty logging businessmen (Jones and Pollak), so he takes the family (wife Wilson, kids Raven-Simone and Pratt, daughter's boyfriend Zane and the family dog voiced by an uncredited MacDonald) to the woods for a month, during which time he must teach a circus bear (Zahn) to live in the wild and woo the last remaining female of his species (Kudrow). Golly, I wonder what might happen?
While it still has a tendency towards those sticky, heartwarming moments, not to mention the heavy-handed save-the-trees moral, the film at least has a subversive, adult-oriented wit that keeps us chuckling. Poo and pee jokes aside, there's some genuinely funny stuff here, helped hugely by Murphy's energetic performance and some excellent voice and effects work, which brings the critters to life wonderfully. Zahn and Kudrow steal the show with their sarcastic humour, and the father-daughter storyline isn't too sickening. The script also throws in references to everything from Hannibal Lecter to Budweiser adverts. Most of this is surprisingly funny, even as the plot clumsily trudges down the well-worn path to a cute ending. Actually, the whole film has a well-worn feel to it--no attempt to do anything vaguely new--but at least it's an enjoyable rehash.