out of 4
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Review by David Wilcock
½ star out of 4
Riding high on the success of The Nutty Professor (1996), Murphy returns in
this abysmal comedy. He plays Doctor John Dolittle, who as a child had the
ability to understand animals. However, after being 'exorcised' he loses
this ability, and we fast forward to see Dolittle in a crummy job
surrounding by crummy people (most notably Dr Mark Weller, played by Oliver
Platt.) However, with a bonk on the head his ability to understand animals
returns, and 'comedy' is ready and waiting to happen.
Except comedy never does happen. Doctor Dolittle, even with the excellent
premise, rarely manages to raise a laugh. Poor old Murphy looks bored stiff
throughout the whole movie, and his performance suffers. The manic Murphy we
saw in the 80's is gone, his more mature (and more boring) twin appears to
be getting all the work in the 90's. The voices of the animals, which
include Albert Brooks, Chris Rock (the 'new' Eddie Murphy) and Norm McDonald
as 'Lucky' the dog are marginally better, and at least they put enthusiasm
in the movie. Sadly, most of their lines are pretty dumb. And they're not
'funny' dumb, like Dumb & Dumber (1994), but just boring dumb. The film even
succumbs to fart jokes halfway through, in a desperate attempt to raise some
laughs. There are a few good jokes in the script, but they are few and far
between. If I had to choose a favourite performance, it would probably be
Albert Brooks tiger, who has a certain charm about him. Sadly, he's barely
in the movie, and Rock's really annoying Hamster is given far too much
screen time. Joke wise, we are thankfully, spared the mocking and insulting
type of jokes that featured heavily in The Nutty Professor.
The director, Betty Thomas, has, well, done better films. She bought us
Private Parts (1997) and The Brady Bunch Movie (1995) which were, sadly,
much better than this. The scenes lack any charm, she just gets the job
done. The animals themselves, are reasonable realistic, although most of
them are obviously puppets. There's an impressive looking tiger, however,
and the lip sync is pretty good. You'd have no problem guessing that most of
the close up's are puppets, however, with their jilted movement. I was
hoping Jim Hensons workshop, who created the furry friends, would have done
a better job.
Doctor Dolittle, in the end, is a disappointment for everyone involved.
Murphy has done much better movies (i.e Trading Places) the director has
seen better days, and even the creatures aren't that good. The target
audience, aged between 7-13, who are undemanding, will probably like it
however, thanks to it's dumbed down humour. Everyone else, however, should
give Doctor Dolittle a miss.
Copyright © 1998 David Wilcock
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