Dr. Dolittle 2
Dr. D. (Eddie Murphy) revives his role as the famous doctor who can talk to the animals and now has so many patients it monopolizes his time and draws his attention away from his wife (Kristen Wilson) and his daughters (Raven Symone and Kyla Pratt). When one of the animals asks Dr. D to make a house call to the forest, the doc discovers the damage and danger greedy land developers are doing to their habitat. The doc develops a plan to save the forest by creating an endangered species law to protect the endangered Pacific Western Bear. He convinces a performing bear named Archie (Steve Zahn) to mate with the wild bear Ava (Lisa Kudrow) in order to save the forest, but the matchmaking runs into a few complications. The cast of animal extras include Lucky the dog (Norm Macdonald); the intoxicated monkey (Phil Proctor); a Mafioso raccoon (Michael Rapaport); a Mafioso Weasel (Andy Dick); and a hilarious frustrated chameleon (Jacob Vargas) among many others.
Continuing the funny premise that humans can hear animals talk makes this sequel a fun and lighthearted story about how important it is to stick together and help each other out. The comedy is skewed from an animal’s perspective and ranges everything from domesticated animals seeking therapy, to animals in the wild telling how their quality of life is changing with man invading their natural domain.
Murphy reprises a role that has made him famous with kids and teens all over the world, and one that allows him to use his trademark style of comedy. This time the story expands to include the dilemmas a father faces with a teenage daughter who has ‘attitude’ and a boyfriend (recording artist Lil’ Zane). But the real stars that make this movie funny (and interesting) are the animals themselves, who (with the help of digital animation techniques) move their mouths, animate their emotions, and reference characters and parody scenes from other movies. One of the funniest is a frustrated chameleon that can’t seem to “blend in” with his new environment.
I took my fifteen year-old son and his friend to get an honest critical reaction from the demographics who will see this movie, and I was surprised to hear they both liked it a lot. In fact, they both thought it was very funny and lived up to their sequel expectations. I’m glad I took younger ‘critics’ with me because they were able to enjoy this movie from a lighthearted, younger perspective that (in this instance) I didn’t have. I only laughed a couple of times and overall I thought it was silly, slow and overloaded with way too many animal jokes about passing gas, urinating and mating.
Even though the dialogue is clever and sometimes humorous, it’s laced with too many curse words (considered mild by today’s standards) and subtle references to animals wanting to have sex. Conveying numerous animals’ instinct to constantly want to mate in almost every other scene of a children’s movie almost crosses the line of what I consider appropriate “family-friendly” humor. Why does Hollywood insist on using adult language and subtle sexual innuendos in children’s movies? The story could have been just as funny (and even more creative) if the writers would have left out the insulting, crass bathroom humor. This type of humor reduces a film’s family appeal.
Sadly, parents will take their younger children to this PG sequel thinking it will be “safe” family-friendly entertainment and although the story, animals and characters do deliver some funny dialogue and cute situations, many parents will object to their kids hearing the language. My concern is that ultimately, the mixture of adult dialogue and sexual humor subtly woven into movies intended for children is beginning to happen more and more, and eventually will be accepted as a normal standard in these movies. Parents need to voice their concerns about this growing trend of “dumbing-down” movies marketed toward our children and pre-teens, with adult material in family films. Unfortunately, the best and most effective way to do that is at the box office but the practicality of that happening when this movie is so wildly popular is slim to none. Is it just me or does anyone else see this trend of adult material infiltrating children’s entertainment?