Film review: Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001), directed by Steve Carr
In this sequel Dr John Dolittle (Eddie Murphy) finds himself engaged in two different battles: 1: Sulking teenager Charisse (Raven-Symoné) who starts hanging out with boys – namely pizza delivery boy Eric (Lil’ Zane) – and 2: helping the animals to save a forest from being chopped down by a logging corporation.
The only way to stop the chainsaws, at least temporarily, is if the forest was the home of an endangered species. There just so happens to be a particular type of bear living there (Ava, voiced by Lisa Kudrow), just the one, and in order for the species to survive they need to find that bear a mate. Aided by his wife Lisa (Kristen Wilson), Dolittle gets one month to try reintroducing performing bear Archie (voiced by Steve Zahn) into the wild.
Joe Potter (Jeffrey Jones) and his attorney Riley (Kevin Pollak) really want to see Dolittle’s project fail so that they can get their hands on those tree trunks, and with that profit, and they’re not above sabotage.
Also starring Kyla Pratt as Maya Dolittle, Jacob Vargas as Pepito the lizard, Michael Rapaport as Joey the Raccoon, Isaac Hayes as Possum, Mandy Moore and Frankie Muniz as a couple of bear cubs, and special mentions: James Avery (Fresh Prince of Bel Air) as Eric’s dad, and Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin may-he-rest-in-peace.
The first Dr Dolittle film I quite liked. Sure, it wasn’t brilliant by any means, but it was okay. The sequel? Most of the time I just wished the film would end.
It’s not particularly funny. At all. Charisse is your average, grating teenager, sure, but it gets annoying after a while and I wished we could see more of her younger sister instead. Eddie Murphy is being Eddie Murphy more than he is Dr Dolittle. That Lisa Kudrow voiced Ava was basically like watching Phoebe in bear form. Her voice was just too distinctive.
It must have been fun (and by “fun” I mean “a nightmare”) to work with all of those animal actors. The CGI work to move their mouths in accordance with speech was good. It’s just that the film is too silly, even though I think the environmental message in it is great – chopping down forests makes animals homeless, and that’s a bad thing.
There was a certain charm to the first film, which I don’t think the sequel lacks, but I can’t put my finger on it. Maybe it’s just that this isn’t a particularly well-scripted affair. It’s as if the film-makers wanting to expand the franchise and cash in on the cuteness of animals and oh isn’t it the darnedest thing when they talk?
A day or so after I had seen Dr. Dolittle 2, Dr. Dolittle 3 was shown on TV. I ummed and aahed over whether or not to watch it, but in the end, decided against it. While I would’ve liked to have the “full set” review-wise, I just thought fuck it, I didn’t even like the second one, enough is enough. (Update 2021: I clearly changed my mind at a later stage.)
Dr. Dolittle 2 is disappointing, poor, and suffers from severe sequelitis. But it does have cute animals in it. How can you resist a Godfather-esque beaver?
2 out of 5 precariously situated beehives.