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Dr. Dolittle

movie reviewvideo review out of 4

All-Reviews.com Movie Review: Dr. Dolittle

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Ossie Davis
Director: Betty Thomas
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 85 Minutes
Release Date: June 1998
Genres: Comedy, Family




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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