Monday, April 25, 2016

Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001) - David Cross #12

Director: Steve Carr
Runtime: 87 minutes

In case you forgot, back in 1998, when Murphy was in decline and starting to do kids movies (he voiced Mushu in Mulan in 1998, and would play Donkey in Shrek a couple years later), Murphy starred in the modern update of Doctor Dolittle (based on Hugh Lofting's series of children's stories from the 1920s, as well as a 1967 musical film starring Rex Harrison).  The movie received mixed reviews but made a crapload of money. (It was the eighth highest worldwide grossing film of 1998, right between Mulan and Shakespeare in Love.)  So, of course, it got a sequel.  Interesting point to note, the 1998 film was rated PG-13, while the sequel was rated PG.

In the sequel, Dolittle is world famous, as we're told through a series of brief gags narrated by the family dog, Lucky (Norm MacDonald, who made the wise choice to remain uncredited).  This narration continues throughout the film, despite usually providing no information beside describing what's happening onscreen, like a film for the blind.  Dolittle comes home from a world tour to his wife and daughters, just in time for his oldest daughter's sixteenth birthday.  Charisse (Raven-SymonĂ©) is more interested in seeing her boyfriend, of whom the doctor does not approve, than having a birthday dinner with her family who are just soooo embarrassing.   We also here start getting the first of terrible attempts at jokes for the parents.  Dolittle got his younger daughter Maya (Kyla Pratt, who stars in the direct to video sequels because holy shit there are three more of these goddamned movies) a chameleon from Mexico, who is extremely overconfident about his ability to change color.  In his extremely thick Mexican accent he talks about how he's going to disappear just "like the baby daddy."  This is just the first in a film long series of jokes that the kids won't get and the parents would roll their eyes at.

Anyway, the plot gets moving when a mafia raccoon and opossum have Dolittle go see The Beaver, in an annoying parody of mob films (the filmmakers seem to think that any premise is funny if it's followed by the phrase "but they're animals"), who requests a favor from the doctor:  a logging company is destroying the forest and he needs the doctor's help.  Dolittle is moved by the destruction and agrees.  Long story short, the doctor discovers that there is a single female of an endangered species of bear in the forest.  He finds a circus bear of the same species, and gets a court injunction to prevent logging while he sees if he can get the bears to mate.  Obviously, the circus bear, Archie (Steve Zahn, from Chain of Fools) is woefully unprepared to live in the wild.  When he first sees the female bear, Ava (Lisa Kudrow), by the river, he remarks that he'd "like to see her wet."  Once again, pointless for the kids, and rather creepy for the adults.

Archie and Dolittle
Of course, the evil lumber mill owners play dirty and almost win, but Dolittle convinces the animals to fight back, as the animals of the world go on strike, refusing to race or perform or even behave.  The mill owners relent, Dolittle and his daughter grow closer, and Archie and Ava make little cubs.  (This, of course, leads to a couple other questions, as Archie has one son and one daughter, who are, besides himself and Ava, the only two members of his species in the forest.)

I'm confused as to why, when going from a PG-13 movie to a PG sequel, they choose a plot entirely about Dr. Dolittle trying to help a bear get laid.  Of all the plots that could have been used, this one seems among the least fitting for the audience being aimed at, and it affects the final product as all the underlying sex jokes are made to go over the kids' heads, but are still unfunny.

If you're between the ages of eight and twelve, this movie will be a lot of fun because there's a bear who likes to say the word "butt" a lot, and farts sometimes.  If that doesn't sound like the highest form of humor, then you'll probably want to stay clear.


The Cross Section:

David Cross is credited as "Dog/Animal Groupie #2."  There are a couple dogs it could have been, but they each have one line and speak in a silly voice.  I'm not at all sure what "Animal Groupie" refers to.  So, basically, there's no notable character, and a matter of a couple seconds of screentime.


1 comment:

  1. If it's any consolation, I read every word.

    It's a relief to realize that even though I now get Cross from a moment's glimpse (confound you Kahn!!), at least I don't from hearing him speak.