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Dr. Dolittle

movie reviewvideo review out of 4

All-Reviews.com Movie Review: Dr. Dolittle

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Ossie Davis
Director: Betty Thomas
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 85 Minutes
Release Date: June 1998
Genres: Comedy, Family




Review by Walter Frith
2 stars out of 4

There is a rule among entertainers. Never perform with children and/or animals because you'll be upstaged every time. Eddie Murphy performs with both in 'Doctor Dolittle'. The first film version of this story appeared in 1967 and starred legendary actor Rex Harrison in the title role and while the film was a critical disaster, it received a Best Picture Oscar nomination and won an Oscar for Visual Effects. One thing that puzzled me upon watching this film is the fact that many references in the film's comedy are made to body parts and bodily functions in general and that is a little hard for some very conservative parents to handle in allowing their children to see it. The matinee performance I saw was full of kids and they seemed to handle it well and the parents laughed right along with their little ones and they seemed to be enjoying themselves as well. The film runs a short 85 minutes, perfect for appealing to the attention span of youngsters.

'Doctor Dolittle' opens about 30 years in the past, in the late 1960's and a little boy named John Dolittle is discovering that he understands animal language and can make conversation with animals in general. No doubt concerned for his well being, his parents, in particular his father (Ozzie Davis), try and put him on the right track and send away his pet dog when they feel he's spending a little too much time with it while talking to it all the time. Skip forward to the present day. John Dolittle (Eddie Murphy) is now a doctor. Don't be confused. He's an MD of the people and not a vet. He has a wife and two young daughters. One of the daughters has a guinea pig, voiced by Chris Rock. He's one of the first to make conversation with Murphy. The other main characters (if you can call them that) are a tiger, voiced by Albert Brooks and a dog, voiced by Norm Macdonald. The plot that unfolds around the whole thing is the sale of Murphy's large clinic to a potential buyer (Peter Boyle). Murphy's two partners at the clinic (Oliver Platt and Richard Schiff) are portrayed as buffoons and are wasted characters.

I enjoyed the film for several reasons. First off, it's summer and its a pleasure to see a film entertain children and adults on the same level and while the Disney franchise has gotten stale, a film like this with a major star like Eddie Murphy, in something he's never done before, is quite interesting to watch in light of remembering some of the very adult films that Murphy has done in the past such as '48 Hours' and 'Beverly Hills Cop'. Murphy shows he can do a family film. The film is simple, straight forward and has some genuine belly laughs and clever wit in its presentation by director Betty Thomas ('The Brady Bunch Movie', 'Private Parts'). Not a classic and a film you'll probably want to see only once, 'Doctor Dolittle' is a film that I can see having a sequel because its box office strength so far is strong.

Copyright 1998 Walter Frith

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