DR. DOLITTLE 2
There are several returnees from the previous film Eddie Murphy, along with Kristen Wilson, Kyle Pratt and Raven-Symone as his family, and Norm MacDonald as the voice of the dog Lucky and Phil Proctor as the drunk monkey. Most welcomely, Betty Thomas is absent, having gone onto other inane efforts like 28 Days (2000), with the directorial baton having been passed onto Steve Carr, previously the director of Next Friday (2000) and of subsequently comedy successes like Daddy Day Care (2003), Are We Done Yet? (2007), Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009) and Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life (2016), as well as the The Proposition segment of Movie 43 (2013). As a result, Dr. Dolittle 2 emerges as a far better effort than its predecessor. Steve Carr lacks Betty Thomass determination to aim at the most vulgar common denominator. There is an extended joke about a bear pooping in a diner toilet but for the most part the film remains free of such humour.
The first film was only a series of set-pieces centred around Eddie Murphy and the animals but this one has a stronger, more engaging story. It is a predictable, nevertheless engaging, arc of Eddie trying to educate a circus bear in the ways of the wild for the first time. Steve Carr milks the set-up for a good deal of amiable humour. The animal effects are a superb mix of animatronics, CGI, puppetry and real animals. The film creates some likable supporting characters Mafioso beavers, the monkey with an alcohol problem and a Mexican chameleon with a problem changing its colours. Dr. Dolittle 2 is certainly a film that has been built entirely around Eddie Murphy and the animals. Former The Cosby Show (1984-92) kid Raven-Symone does well in the scenes as Eddies teenage daughter but everybody else takes a place on the sidelines to Eddie and the animals. Even the villains of the show and their scheming seem trivial.
On the minus side, the film contains an inordinate number of plugs for junkfood companies. Also the film tends to get overloaded by trendy pop-culture gags animals going May The Force be with you, fishes going Whazzup?, jailed bears whispering Hello, Clarice, the chameleon asking Id like a side order of flies super-size. These sorts of gags are one of the bugbears that one has about modern fantasy the rupturing of the suspension of disbelief for a quick joke that modern audiences are going to get. Besides the commercially driven narcissism in reaching for such easy laughs, it is something that dooms the historic shelf-life of a work. Classic Disney films have a timelessness and it is hard to think of films like Dr. Dolittle 2 being revived and enjoyed more than fifty years later when their contemporary references have been all but forgotten.
The series was continued with the dvd-released likes of Dr. Dolittle 3 (2006), Dr Dolittle: Tail to the Chief (2008) and Dr Dolittle: Million Dollar Mutts (2009). Eddie Murphy was absent and the lead character was Kyla Pratt as his daughter.
(No. 10 on the SF, Horror & Fantasy Box-Office Top 10 of 2001 list).