|With a new director and a different writer, Dr. Dolittle 2 has turned into a nicer, more kiddy friendly version of the franchise than the first movie in the series. And this is not a bad thing by any means, though there is still an abundance of fart jokes throughout the film. But perhaps you have to expect that sort of thing in an Eddie Murphy film. (did anyone see that giant hamster in The Nutty Professor?) The toilet humor in this film sometimes lowered the value of it all and there's one bathroom like scene which is particularly weird because it doesn't forward the film at all. (but more on that later)|
As usual, there's an abundance of amusing jokes mixed in with the coarse elements. And Eddie Murphy is in his element as the doctor who can speak to the animals. Murphy has a great talent for spontaneous and improvised comedy and much of the film reflects this; he definitely can hold his own against a very funny group of animals. Just watch Shrek for more evidence of how he is able to steal-the-show in any movie he makes. And the cast that joins murphy in this film excels as well. Raven-Symone holds her own as "Charisse Dolittle" (Eddie's daughter).
It's interesting though that the filmmakers chose to mix the fart-jokes and toilet humor with a sub-plot concerning Dolittle's strained relationship with his 16 year old daughter and the rest of his family. Perhaps they were trying to broaden their demographic or something. The producers probably thought that if they tried to stick in something resembling a plot into the film and dusted it with fart jokes, that they would snag the kids, the moms, the men and perhaps the single women.
Probably the best part of the movie though was a scene where a group of animals in the forest asks for Dr. Dolittle's help in saving the land from a group of loggers. The group of animals includes a beaver and a raccoon and a few other small mammal types. The animals all have New Jersey mob accents and want Dolittle to do them a favor. It was the best part of the movie. And I can't really complain on the length of the movie since it wasn't overly long, but it seemed to me that it was missing the element of the classic comedic ensemble cast. Of course the cast was huge if you take into account the hundreds of animals that Dolittle interacts with, but when Murphy was on the screen as the only human surrounded by a bunch of animals, some scenes felt a little empty.
And it was strange, but some of the animals had the best parts of the film. Like in that scene with the forest mobsters. The beaver offers Dolittle a fish and Dolittle refuses. The raccoon then pipes up with "hey, the beaver offers you a fish, you take the fish!" It was probably the funniest line in the whole movie and Murphy didn't say it. The entire movie isn't always funny. The one-liners usually aren't over-done and the scenes are not too long and drawn out. Unlike the film, What's the Worst That Could Happen, where many of the scenes just went on for too long and lost their funniness because they started to drag, this is not the case with Dr. Dolittle 2. The scenes are short enough so that the audience is still laughing after they're over.
But this can also be a problem. Not with the comedy in the scenes, but with the content of the scenes. The filmmakers of this sequel have tried to expand the conscience and meaning of the dolittle franchise by making the story about environmentalism and saving the forests against loggers. But it never really digs deep enough into the subject matter to make is serious enough for anyone to take notice of the politics that is threaded through the movie. It's like "light environmentalism" or "Sunday brunch activism." It's almost as if the filmmakers have sugar-coated the lecture so much that there's no lecture left. Ah, but who's complaining? it's just a Summer movie.
But before I conclude this review, i just have to have one word on the "farting bathroom" scene in the middle of the movie. In it, the bear that Dolittle is trying to save (voiced by Steve Zahn) confronts him at a restaurant in the small town near the forest that Dolittle is trying to save. Dolittle tries to get the bear to leave the populated area, but the bear won't, saying he has to go to the bathroom.
We then, of course, have Dolittle shoving the bear into a bathroom in the restaurant where the bear makes a huge stink. Although the scene starts out okay, it veers off into some weird fart and toilet territory that just goes nowhere for about three minutes. I suppose it was just the obligatory bathroom scene . . . Dr. Dolittle 2 is a light-hearted summer movie worth seeing for a fun matinee showing. It's got good comedy and funny lines and you'll enjoy it as long as you donít try to get something "educational" from it. The movie doesn't take itself seriously enough for that.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.