20th Century Fox presents
Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001)
"Do you have little monkeys coming up to you asking for a 40 ounce? No!"- Charisse Dolittle (Raven-Symone)
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Kristen Wilson, Jeffrey Jones, Kevin Pollak
Other Stars: Steve Zahn, Lisa Kudrow, Michael Rapaport, Norm McDonald, Andy Dick
Director: Steve Carr
MPAA Rating: PG for language and crude humor
Run Time: 01h:27m:21s
Release Date: 2001-10-23
DVD ReviewAs I was growing up, Eddie Murphy starred in films such as Beverly Hills Cop, Trading Places and the hysterical movie, Delirious. Today, children coming of age can see Murphy in a different light than during my generation—family films. Since the lackluster success of Vampire In Brooklyn, Murphy has all but vanished from the land of R-rated motion pictures. In fact, only one film featuring Murphy in the years following his comeback in The Nutty Professor has been rated R (1999's Life), and it is no coincidence that it was the least successful for him in some time.
One again, Murphy returns to the land of PG-rated films in Dr. Dolittle 2. Aimed solely at children, the picture is a light-hearted farce that will no doubt please parents looking for entertainment, devoid of any frightening or adult situations, for their kids.
Picking up after the ending of the 1998 hit, Dr. Dolittle 2 finds the good doctor/veternarian leading a hurried lifestyle. His relationship with his children suffers because he is rarely home, and every animal in the area feels the need to speak with him. To complicate matters, Dr. Dolittle is requested by the animal residents of a northern California forest to save their environment from a large lumber company bent on destroying the wooded acres. Dolittle's only hope rests in his successfully mating an endangered species of bear in order to make the grounds a safe haven. The only problem is that while the female already resides in the forest, the male counterpart does not. The male bear, named Archie, must be successfully reintroduced to nature after having been a circus performer for his entire life. Meanwhile, on top of his problems with the animals, Dr. Dolittle must deal with his teenage daughter discovering boys, among other things.
In many ways, Dr. Dolittle 2 is no more than a carbon copy of its predecessor. Once again Dolittle must do battle with evil corporations and try to keep his family together. What is different in the sequel is that it strays from heavy-handed issues and offers eighty-seven minutes of family friendly programming. Though the picture has one moment of bathroom humor involving a flatulent bear, there is little else here to offended.
As has been the case in the original Dolittle, Babe, Cats & Dogs and other films relating to talking animals, the four-legged creatures in Dr. Dolittle 2 steal the show. With special effects by Rhythm and Hues (Babe, Little Nicky), Dr. Dolittle 2 doesn't offer the best computer-generated effects seen on film; yet, for their purpose, the computer trickery works well.
The real amazement from the creatures comes from the stars that lend their voices to the furry cast mates. Steve Zahn is terrific as Archie, a sort of neurotic type who may remind the viewer of Woody Allen in ultra-nebbish mode. Lisa Kudrow is uninspired as the female bear Ava, though her scenes are short, never allowing her voice talents to come full circle. The remainder of the voice actors plays like a celebrity "guess who"-type game: Michael Rapaport, Cedric the Entertainer, Norm McDonald, Andy Dick, and even Arnold Schwarzenegger get in on the act and each do nice work.
For all of the talking animals and cute celebrity voices, this is Eddie Murphy's picture. As has been evidenced in the past, Murphy is an extremely talented actor, capable of any range (Bowfinger to Shrek) and here he shows that at times the weight of a film can rest squarely on his wiry frame. As John Dolittle, Murphy creates perfect comedic timing as well as a softer touch in less humorous scenes. While it may be impossible for Murphy, or anyone for that matter, to ever outdo the talking animals, he shows that he may well be up to the task.
Dr. Dolittle 2 made me laugh, and for a short period of time, it made me forget about other troubles in the world. Sometimes a good laugh or distraction is all I need out of a movie, and when I obtain it, it is like catching lightning in a bottle.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B
|Aspect Ratio||2.35:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Surprisingly, Dr. Dolittle 2 is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio that, while rare for family films, serves its purpose here. The image is anamorphically encoded and for the most part it looks very good, though it is far from being as high quality as other transfers from Fox. A slight amount of edge enhancement is noticeable at times throughout the length of the film, but there are no signs of grain or pixelation. Colors look fantastic, with fleshtones coming off well, and the greens of the forest looking fine; sharpness and detail are terrific. Almost a reference quality transfer, though not on par with other titles from the studio.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
|DS 2.0||English and French||yes|
Audio Transfer Review: Aside from isolated problems with dialogue, the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix for Dr. Dolittle 2 sounds fine. Towards the start of the film, dialogue sounds harsh in scenes in which Murphy yells, and there is a noticeable hiss and distortion at these times. Aside from those moments, the mix is flawless, with ambient sounds filling the room on occasion and the score by David Newman coming across nicely from the front speakers.
French and English Dolby 2 channel mixes are also available.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 25 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English and Spanish with remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Ice Age
12 TV Spots/Teasers
2 Deleted Scenes
1 Feature/Episode commentary by cirector Steve Carr and producer Heidi Santelli
Layers Switch: 00h:50m:56s
- The Product G & B with Wyclef music video for Cluck Cluck
Next up are three similar featurettes dealing with the animals used in the film. The first of these is Wild on the Set with Tank the Bear, showing the training of the bear that would be Archie in the finished film. The clip runs eleven minutes. Next is Bear Necessities: A Kid's Guide to Grizzlies a nine-minute short showing the lives of bears, narrated by an employee of the Los Angeles Zoo. Finally, Making Movie Magic with Rhythm and Hues shows the computer effects from start to finish. Running a short five minutes, the clip could be longer and more informative, but a little bit is better than nothing, I suppose.
Two extended scenes are offered, though neither adds much in the way of either content or laughs. Five storyboarded scenes are also included. A music video by the Product G & B and Wyclef, titled Cluck Cluck, is available, though not being a fan of hip hop, I cannot comment on just how bad it really is. Ok, it is really bad. Two trailers, as well as a whopping twelve TV spots and a music promo, round out the promotional aspect of the disc.
Finally, a twenty-five minute documentary entitled The Making of Dr. Dolittle 2 is perhaps the best extra on the DVD. Spanning the early years of Murphy's career, as well as presenting the efforts that went into making the creature animation look believable, this documentary is informative and not the usual PR fluff that can be found on most discs.
Extras Grade: B+
Final CommentsA rare treat in Hollywood, Dr. Dolittle 2 is a fine family film that is equally enjoyable to people of all ages. With some nice special features, you really can't go wrong, even if you don't have little ones running around.
Kevin Clemons 2001-10-04