Retro Review: Dr. Dolittle 2

Eddie Murphy returns for yet another sequel. Poor Eddie Murphy seems to have sequel-itis.

This time Murphy reprises his role as John Dolittle, who in 1998’s “Dr. Dolittle” discovered he could talk and listen to animals.

Dolittle has now set up a successful veterinarian practice and is married with two kids. Dolittle will often struggle with home-life which often conflicts with his animal duties.

One night during one of his family struggles, he is approached by a raccoon which wants the Doc to come with him to meet the “Godbeaver”.

Dolittle reluctantly accepts and learns that a land developer (Jeffrey Jones) and his ruthless attorney (Kevin Pollak) want to clear away the woods.

It seems the only way to really save the forest is to mate two endangered Pacific Western Bears so that the forest can remain a haven for an endangered species.

Dolittle finds a male Pacific Western Bear named Archie (Steve Zahn) as a circus-performer. He decides he will mate Archie with Ava, the only Pacific Western Bear left in the damned forest.

Will Dolittle be able to get these two bears together? And how will Dolittle’s animal friends help him to save the forest?

The two main animals in the sequel are Archie the Bear and Pepito the Chameleon.

Zahn’s Archie left me with nothing but I bet somebody with great ad-libbing experience like Robin Williams could have brought a lot more life to this bear.

The best part of this film is the wise-cracking Chameleon named Pepito (Jacob Vargas). Pepito gets all the great lines and he may catch you cracking a smile. In the first film, Lucky the Dog (Norm MacDonald) and Rodney the Guinea Pig (Chris Rock) totally stole the show from Murphy. All the animals in sequel, who are voiced by a lot of stars, are very forgettable including Archie. I even found the return of Lucky quite mundane as he is very horny here. Did you really know that Joey Lauren Adams (Chasing Amy) and bubble-gum pop star Mandy Moore were actually two of the animals? It didn’t matter.

After watching 20 minutes of this sequel I really found myself quite bored. The film has over an hour and a half running time but it only has about 30 minutes of story to tell.

The strike scenes were a great attempt to get the film back on track and it is a shame that they didn’t work a lot better. Loved that idea.

The “animals-can-talk-gag” ran very thin through the original film and is even more so here. I found myself really missing Rex Harrison, who played the original and magical Dr. Dolittle in the 1967 classic. I loved that film and was ashamed to see that film’s heritage distorted by this schlock of a series.

I understand it’s for the kids and a very family oriented movie but does it have to be so dumb? I mean great family films relate to children and adults. I don’t fault the actors on the failure of the project but the script writing and lack original gags. These gags were just plain boring. Where was the freshness?

Furthermore, when are we going to see the “return of the real Eddie Murphy”.

(1.5 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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