Dr. Dolittle 2
|Eddie Murphy||Dr. John Dolittle|
|Directed by||Steve Carr|
There are plenty of horse laughs in Eddie Murphy?s return engagement as John Dolittle, doctor and animal counselor. There is also an environmentally-friendly plot about deforestation and endangered species. Murphy himself is smooth and likeable as the zoophonic physician, and the animals are cute and move their lips when they talk. In the dog days of summer, it?s hard to ask a great deal more of a popular comedy.
It certainly seems to be too much to ask for a moratorium on scatological humor, although Murphy, writer Larry Levin, and director Steve Carr show a modicum of restraint, holding off on the heavy stuff for the first hour or so. But their self-discipline only lasts so long before giving in to the toilet humor that has become indispensable to modern lowbrow comedy. Here, at least, one of the gags does come to grips with the classic question of whether a bear exercises a certain bodily function in the woods; the answer is : not always.
As the picture begins, Dolittle is minding his own business, giving a positive-image mantra to a stray dog support group (?I am somebody?s best friend?) and dealing with his Father-Knows-Best family life when he is summoned by a tough-talking wiseguy raccoon (voice of Michael Rapaport) to a meeting with the Godbeaver (Richard C. Sarafian). The beaver alerts the doctor to the rapacious activities of a logging company bent on clear-cutting a local forest. There are many bits of information one might need animal language skills to uncover, but this wouldn?t seem to be among them - surely environmental activists would have already pushed this item to the front page. But logic is not the bottom line in this movie.
Dolittle agrees to take the case (how could he refuse), and with his lawyer wife (Kristin Wilson) he gets a court injunction to stop the logging on the grounds of irreparable harm to an endangered species - the Pacific Western Bear. But there is only one such bear in this stretch of woods - a female (voiced by Lisa Kudrow). To qualify as a savable species a mate will have to be found for her, and Dolittle locates one in a circus sideshow - a tap-dancing ham of a bear named Archie (Steve Zahn). Trouble is, Archie has no talent or taste for the rustic life. It?s up to Dolittle to persuade him to take the gig, and then teach him how to survive in the wild and win the bear lady.
Levin?s script relies on clever one-liners, not on story or consistency. There?s no follow-through on the animal mafia premise, for instance, and a subplot involving the emerging sexuality and independence of Dolittle?s sixteen-year-old daughter (Raven-Symone) goes nowhere : a promised trip to Europe and a promising boyfriend (Lil? Zane) are dropped unceremoniously from the screen. But you won?t really care about that sappy subplot, anyway. What makes DD2 worth while are the jokes, and if you like talking animals with a sense of humor (and who doesn?t?), you?ll have a good time. Eddie Murphy has the charisma and comic talent to hold it all together, although for the most part his character here is so tamed that he seems to have moved from Mr. Robinson?s neighborhood into Mr. Rogers?s.
© Text 2002 Jonathan Richards - Filmfreak.be