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Dr. Doolittle 2

Dr. Doolittle 2 on DVD

A real animal act

Eddie Murphy returns as Doctor John Doolittle in what is, unfortunately, an inferior sequel to his earlier hit.

Now that it's established that he can communicate with animals without being a complete whacko, the producers needed a new plot for the sequel, so they trod the old road of trying to make a movie that's not only funny, but IMPORTANT.

In the process, they've given us a tired retread of a scenario that follows Hollywood's typically liberal bent.

You see, they needed a villain in order to have dramatic conflict, so what better - or easier - villain than greedy capitalists?

Murphy is likeable in his role, and he lets the animals steal the show - and all the best lines, but a lot of the humor is decidedly childish (though not necessarily the sort of stuff you want your kids to sit through). Oh, it isn't really offensive, but jokes about bodily functions wear thin and you wish they'd hired more creative writers.

Dr. Doolittle is now running parallel practices, one dealing with humans and the other with animals. When a Godfather-like beaver summons him to a meeting, he is convinced to help them fight an evil logging company as it attempts to clear-cut the animals' home territory.

He does this by trying to bring together an endangered female bear and a male counterpart who was raised in the circus, and therefore is ill equipped for life in the real world. It's kind of like Born Free meets Erin Brockovich, but always going for the easy laugh and/or easy, stereotyped villain.

Why not a real quest instead of cheap shots at greedy corporate America (and how come Hollywood Movie Studios never seem to realize that if there's a greedy corporate America they're as guilty as anyone else - if not more guilty - of being part of it?). Perhaps Doolittle and his family could have been enlisted to help find a lost circus bear that, due to a train wreck or whatever, was in the wilderness and in danger of dying in an unfamiliar environment. Perhaps Doolittle could have enlisted the help of the same forest critters that are in this movie to find and save this bear.

Sure, it would be just as warm and fuzzy, pun intended, but at least it would have been a positive plot that sent a hopeful message of cooperation and heroism to kids, rather than a typical rant against the capitalist system that supports the filmmakers so well.

But that would require imagination, or less of a socio-political agenda to push. And we can't have that, can we?

Anyway, plot aside, Murphy and the humans play their parts very well and the animals, whether real, animatronic or digitally-enhanced, are extremely well done. The greedy capitalistic money (is this not a sequel designed to cash in on a pair of earlier movies' success?) is mostly on the screen, and the film looks and sounds terrific.

The DVD itself is also very good. It's presented in anamorphic widescreen video, 16x9 TV compatible, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and the picture and sound quality are top notch. There are plenty of extras, too, including a director's commentary, extended scenes, an HBO "Making of" documentary, storyboard to film comparisons and a featurette starring "Tank the bear." There's also a music video (Cluck Cluck, by The Product G&B with Wyclef) and the trailers and TV spots.

Dr. Doolittle 2, from 20th Century Fox Home Video
87 min. anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 TV compatible, Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring Eddie Murphy, Kristen Wilson, Jeffrey Jones, Kevil Pollak
Produced by John Davis
Written by Larry Levin, Directed by Steve Carr.


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Updated May 13, 2006