Reviewed by GREG KING
(20th Century Fox)
Director: Steve Carr
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Kristen Wilson, Kevin Pollak, Jeffrey Jones, Kyla Pratt, Raven-Symone, Lil Zane, James L Avery, voices of Lisa Kudrow, Steve Zahn, Jacob Vargas, Mike Epps, Jamie Kennedy, Bob Odenkirk, Michael Rapaport, Isaac Hayes, Richard C Sarafian, Reni Santoni, Andy Dick, John Witherspoon, Joey Lauren Adams, Mandy Moore
Running time: 95 minutes.
Eddie Murphy reprises his role as the San Francisco doctor with an unusual ability to communicate with animals in this moderately pleasing sequel to the hit film of a couple of years ago. Unlike most sequels, which are usually unnecessary and repetitive, Dr Dolittle 2 actually tries to do something fresh with the concept, and succeeds up to a point.
Dolittle becomes involved in trying to save a forest from a logging company. His only chance to prevent wholesale destruction of the forest is to save an endangered species of Pacific Western bear by mating the lone existing female with Archie, a bear raised in captivity in a travelling circus. With the help of a Mafia of friendly forest creatures, Dolittle teaches Archie (voiced by Steve Zahn, from Happy Texas, etc) how to survive in the wilderness. Meanwhile, the shady forest company representatives (Kevin Pollak and Jeffrey Jones) hope for the doctor to fail, and are not beyond trying to sabotage his efforts.
A strong positive environmental message runs through this film, although the team of writers has resisted the temptation to belabour the point. There is also a strong subplot that explores Dolittle’s prickly relationship with his teenage daughter who thinks he is a little strange because he can talk to the animals.
Steve Carr (Next Friday, etc) directs at a rather brisk pace, and the film never outstays its welcome. Even Murphy, currently enjoying huge success with his scene stealing antics as the wise cracking donkey in the animated Shrek, is more restrained here than normal, and is enjoyable to watch.
There are plenty of laughs, and younger audiences will certainly appreciate the antics of the talking animals. As with the first Dr Dolittle movie, the talking animals get most of the good lines. A solid support cast, including Friends’ Lisa Kudrow, Jamie Kennedy, Michael Rapaport and pop star Mandy Moore, has been assembled to give voice to the animals.