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Dr. Dolittle 2

Starring Eddie Murphy
Screenplay by Larry Levin
Based on the the last one
Directed by Steve Carr

IN SHORT: Runs a far second to the first. [80 minutes]

Dr. Dolittle 2 is Rated PG for language and crude humor, as opposed to the Doctor Dolittle the first, which carried the more mature PG-13 label for crude humor and language. The major difference between the two is that DD2 is loaded to the gills with talking animals. DD1 was loaded to the gills with Eddie Murphy reacting at the absolute absurdity of his character being able to understand and converse with the animals. With too many special effects screaming for screen space, and a concept which is already dry, there is very little for Eddie Murphy to do. Net result: a perfect park your kids movie, headed soon for a kidlet safe shelf near you.

For those of us without kidlets to lug, t'ain't no Eddie Murphy movie.

From our honesty is the best policy department: We may have been thrown a bit by the fact that the first couple of minutes of our screening of Dr. Dolittle 2 ran with the wrong soundtrack -- some lovely urban format ballad from the radio track that usually runs in the theater before the movie runs. So we're guessing the Lucky the Dog (Norm MacDonald) brings everyone who missed Doc 1 up to speed with the facts of the matter. Animals bark, yelp, squeal, whatever. Doctor John Dolittle (Eddie Murphy) still understands 'em all. And all of 'em tend to show up just about the same time every night to demand his attention. That time would be dinner time, which is wearing on the nerves of the rest of the returning clan: Kristen Wilson as Dolittle's enduring wife Lisa; Kyla Pratt as Dolittle's daughter Maya; Raven Symone as his youngest, Charisse.

To calm the clan, the Doc promises a break from the fuzzballs, a month-long vacation in Europe. Before the words are even out of his mouth, a tough talking raccoon (Michael Rapaport) appears with a Godfather like summons to see "The Beaver," ruler of a forest in imminent danger of clearcutting by evil land developers (Kevin Pollak and Jeffrey Jones). Swapping Europe for a cabin in the woods, Doctor Dolittle sets out to prevent the imminent extinction of the Pacific Western bear species from the forest. To do that he must match up the native female Ava (Lisa Kudrow) with Archie, a dancing bear (Steve Zahn). In bear terms, that means he's domesticated, not gay.

The only other subplot to cross Dolittle's path is the surprise introduction of Charisse's "new" (and presumably very first) boyfriend, Eric (L'il Zane) who dresses a lot more dangerous than he acts. Everything else, joke and story wise, falls on the shoulders of the talking animals. Said fuzzies include the return of the drunken monkey (Phil Proctor), plus teen stars Frankie Muniz and Mandy Mooreas bear cubs, Jacob Vargas as a genetically deficient chameleon and Andy Dickas Lenny the Weasel.

It's been a long standing policy of this site not to put a dollar rating on kidlet films which ultimately are going to wind up wearing themselves down in your personal VCR. Doctor Dolittle, the first, got a number because it was far superior to a standard kidflick -- meaning any adult could sit through it sans chiclets chompers and have a real blast. Dr. Dolittle 2 falls far short of any of that grownup appeal. We watched the grownups in our audience get their occasional laugh (that includes us in that pile). We watched the single digits around us as well. Those kidlets were jumping up and down and having the time of their little lives. If you've got kids to bring, Dr. Dolittle 2 will not let you down. If you don't, there's far too little of the laughs we expect from an Eddie Murphy movie.

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