"Dr. Dolittle 2," a pointless sequel to the 1998 hit, is superior to its
hideously misguided predecessor, and yet it's still pretty bad. Aimed more
squarely for children than the original (this one is rated PG; the original
was PG-13), it is harmless and fluffy, with a few scattershot moments of mild
amusement. It is also painfully routine, more often boring than not, and
Dr. John Dolittle (Eddie Murphy), the famous veterinarian who has the gift of
being able to understand what animals say, is back, along with his lawyer
wife, Lisa (Kristen Wilson), and two children, Charisse (Raven-Symone) and
Maya (Kyla Pratt). When a forest is threatened to be torn down by a nasty
land developer (Jeffrey Jones), Dr. Dolittle is given a month to perform the
impossible: take a circus bear (voiced by Steve Zahn) and get him to mate
with a country bear (Lisa Kudrow).
Written by Larry Levin and directed by Steve Carr (2000's despicable "Next
Friday"), "Dr. Dolittle 2" is placed firmly in the category of "unnecessary
sequel." The premise of saving land from being torn down is as old as the
hills, and doesn't help matters; certainly a more original idea could have
been concocted if a follow-up had to be made.
The various interactions between the doctor and the animals are predictable
and too often tiresome. While children may enjoy much of this, it doesn't
successfully carry over for the adult audience, which all good family films
do. Better is a subplot involving the rocky relationship between the doctor
and his 16-year-old daughter, Charisse, who has begun to date. This section
of the movie does away with the main attraction of the animals, but it also
offers up a fairly accurate, if PG-rated view, of the growing pains of an
adolescent. It is surprising to see Raven-Symone, who once played little
Olivia on TV's "The Cosby Show," all grown up, and she certainly has the
charisma of an actress with a definite future in films.
As for Eddie Murphy, does he really have nothing to do anymore than make
sequels to successful first pictures? Last year it was the perfectly
dreadfully "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps," and now it is "Dr. Dolittle 2."
Since he is so clearly upstaged by the animal performers, and doesn't get
nearly enough comedic material for himself, Murphy's role could have been
played by anyone and it wouldn't have made a bit of difference. Likewise, the
film itself could have never been made, and it wouldn't have been missed. If
anything, it could have saved millions of wasted dollars.
Copyright © 2001 Dustin Putman