Doctor Dolittle
Rating -

Comedy (US); 1998; Rated PG-13; 85 Minutes

Eddie Murphy: Dr. John Dolittle
Ossie Davis: Archie Dolittle
Oliver Platt: Dr. Mark Weller
Richard Schiff: Dr. Gene Reiss
Kristen Wilson: Lisa Dolittle

Produced by Sue Baden-Powell, John Davis, David T. Friendly, Steph Lady, Joseph Singer and Jenno Topping; Directed by Betty Thomas; Screenwritten by Hugh Lofting, Nat Mauldin and Larry Levin

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Written by DAVID KEYES

Maybe its a good thing animals can't talk. For all we know, they'd be more intelligent and wise than us humans; they could become world leaders, political figures, Hollywood legends, philosophers--all those things that human beings are. Heck, they could even become the superior race; the way we see it, if they had a human vocabulary, they'd have the intelligence to dominate us. Anything is possible. At least with our knowledge an experience, animals are intelligent regardless of what generates from their mouth.

Somehow, though, I doubt animals would talk like the ones in Betty Thomas' "Doctor Dolittle." Here is a film that inappropriately exercises bathroom humor to the point where you'd never find it funny again. The movie provokes it as if the creators believe that our animals have dirty things on their minds when they are around us. And no wonder; Betty Thomas, the director of the movie, also made the raunchy and useless "Private Parts," not to mention one of the worst films ever made, "The Brady Bunch Movie." I'm not sure if I have something against her, but if I do, the evidence speaks for itself; once you make three bad movies you can step right in line to be the king bad movie director.

But I digress. The film is, ironically, another remake in the career of actor Eddie Murphy, who seems to be the only man nowadays who likes to make them. Even people like Robin Williams (a la "Flubber") have trouble convincing us that they enjoy doing them, so it's kind of a strange coincidence that a man like Murphy would try it again after the first one was such a critical flop.

Who could plainly forget "The Nutty Professor," where Murphy portrayed half of the film's roles? That movie was bad enough to convince anyone that Murphy's career would be ruined afterwards, but heroically, he stepped up to the plate again with "Doctor Dolittle." It's too bad that, in this movie, he's sort of like an "in-the-background" character, dwarfed by all these talking animals. If he had been the absolute center of attention, he'd probably have redeemed himself.

The result, with the combination of that and the fact that the animals are rude and look like their lips are being moved by invisible fingers, is this awful mess of a film; a lame-joked, repetitive, and downright stupid "animals say the darnest things" movie. Animals that could talk would probably take offense in it, and the people who actually think its funny just might very well be addicted to "Beavis And Butthead."

A movie needs more than just talking animals to support it; don't you think that we should have some decent human characters in a picture like this? Thanks to the rotten decisions obviously inflicted on the script, all the big-names in the cast lists are merely good actors who show up and let the animals do the work. We do not pay attention to any of the human characters whatsoever, unless, of course, you happen to see one of the film's more popular scenes, namely the one involving Murphy giving mouth-to-mouth to a veterinary patient. He checks out a hamster, finds that he is not breathing, and awkwardly attempts to administer CPR. That must be his punishment for appearing in "Boomerang."

This material is impossible to tolerate. If you make a movie about animals who talk, do it because you want to make them look intelligent, not dimwitted. Now that I think of it, "Doctor Dolittle" has been made with these types of characteristics probably because people laugh more at stupidity than intelligence. There are limits to bathroom humor, though: you can only turn on a battery so many times before it runs out of juice.

1998, David Keyes, Please e-mail the author here if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.
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