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John Dolittle was a worrying child his father always caught him pretending
to talk to animals and eventually had to get him to stop it. As an adult,
his gift is long forgotten until he hits a dog with his car and hears it
talk to him. When he realises that he is not going crazy and he can talk to
them he is suddenly inundated with animals to treat, his family is falling
apart and his business partners think their whole business is at
Eddie Murphy basically rebuild his career around a couple of big comedy remakes which relied on humour and effects. Here the humour consists of good lines and the effects the animatronic animals. The plot is the weakest point of the film and, although it has a basic story, it never really involves or becomes important. Supporting the film then is some funny lines (rather than consistent jokes) from the animal support cast whether it be main characters (Rodney the hamster) or quick one-liners (`I am Kyser Soze').
The effects are surprisingly ropey they look good but they don't move naturally and the cuts between the real animals and the puppets are very clear. The support cast basically carry the movie and save it from being pretty dire stuff. Rock, Brooks, MacDonald, Leguizamo, Shandling etc all do good work and their dialogue basically consists of one-liners rather than anything else. Beside this the adult cast look like straight men. Murphy is quite dull and even the likes of Platt and Boyle (who usually do OK in small roles) have little to do.
Overall this is fun to watch simply because of the support cast and the regular sharp lines of dialogue from the animals. However, look for any more than that and you'll be disappointed.
OK, so "Doctor Dolittle" is mostly stuff that would only appeal to
little kids, but it is worth seeing (I've actually never seen the
original version, which I heard was a pathetic excuse for a movie).
Eddie Murphy is, in my opinion, trounced in the movie by Chris Rock as
the out-of-control hamster. I almost wish that they could have had more
scenes with both Eddie Murphy and Ossie Davis (yes, Ossie Davis went so
far as to take a role in this movie).
So, this movie's nothing special, but pretty funny nonetheless. Also starring Oliver Platt, Peter Boyle, Richard Schiff, and the voices of Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres (who would later co-star as the voices in "Finding Nemo").
This version of "Doctor Dolittle" came into stores back when I was
twelve years old, which was when I first saw it. I think I liked it a
lot at the time, and watched it again a few months later. After many
years, I just decided to check it out again. Since I'm obviously not as
easily amused as I was when I was twelve, and was aware that it
generally wasn't considered that great, I didn't have very high
expectations. Afterwards, however, I certainly can't say that I think
it's as bad as some do.
During his childhood, John Dolittle talks to animals. It seems that he can understand them, and they can understand him, but when his dad sees this, he thinks it's ridiculous. After John's dog is taken away, he is obviously not happy, and stops talking to animals for a long time. When he grows up, he becomes a physician, and has a wife and two daughters. It seems that Dr. Dolittle's communication with animals is long gone, but one night, after he nearly runs over a dog on the road, he hears it say something! Now, his childhood ability has come back, and soon, he finds many different types of creatures following him around! How will people be able to believe that he actually has this remarkable gift, and that it's not just a mental illness, as one would probably assume?!
As you would probably expect, this movie has its fair share of lame jokes (such as a rat farting), and like you've probably already heard, the movie would overall appeal more to kids than anyone else. However, certainly not all of the gags are lame. During my most recent viewing, I wouldn't have been surprised if I had kept a straight face through the entire thing, but that's not what happened. I found no huge laughs in the film, but there were several times when I smiled and snickered. I also found that the story gets suspenseful to some degree towards the end. Eddie Murphy's performance is also a highlight. Some of the voice-overs for the animals are silly, maybe the majority of them, but this isn't much of a problem.
For kids, this movie could be very funny, though it is somewhat crude at times, remember the PG-13 rating. So, I don't know how appropriate for kids it is (that's for parents to decide). For adults, and probably adolescents, this version of "Doctor Dolittle" is certainly nothing special. It could be mildly amusing, if you don't mind extreme silliness and crude toilet humour, but there's probably also a fair chance that you would find it absolutely revolting (I think some clearly have). Without a doubt, this movie is pretty cheesy, and skipping it wouldn't be a great loss for most people, but it's certainly not one that I advise everyone to avoid at all costs (though that would probably be a good idea for some people).
Doctor Dolittle (1998)
I was surprised to see this movie got such a low ratingit's not so bad. Oh, for sure it's not so great, either. But Eddie Murphy alone makes it something worth watching (he's one of the few perfect-pitch comedians out there). And the story, a 1920 classic for children, is something of its own.
What falls apart is the slightly pushy sentimentalism and the generally mediocre secondary cast. That might be enough to push it into mediocrity, for sure, but it's not meant to be a deep classic, and it plays with the story nicely.
That story is not just about a doctor (of the human type) who can hear animals talking. It's more about how society condemns hims and tries to help him with psycho-care. His bland wife (with the gorgeous eyes that get overplayed) is typical of his "friends," all nice people with distractions and no time for the possibility that he might, in fact, hear animals talk.
The talking animals are of course great fun, from the rats to the tiger. This is the part of the movie that is meant to appeal across the board, and it does, including its good special effects. The feeling of family, not dysfunctional, is another bit of warmth, not to mention that the family is African American, a nice twist on the original story based on an English doctor.
And though the movie was not liked by critics, it has made a third of a billion dollars, which speaks for itself. Not a masterpiece, and not even a classic, it still has wonderful aspects including a very wonderful basic concept.
`Doctor Dolittle'. ***. (1998, USA, PG-13, 85 min. Directed by Betty
Thomas with Edie Murphy, Ossie Davis, Oliver Platt, Richard Schiff, Kristen
Wilson, Kyla Pratt). John Dolittle (Murphy) can talk to the animals and
they can talk to him. At least he/they could when he was a kid. His dad
thought he was nuts and though the use of an exorcist and some stern
fatherly persuasion John looses or suppresses his talent/curse. When we next
see John, he is Dr. Dolittle, M.D, happily married, father of two girls.
He's a respected partner in a very successful medical practice and is about
to become very rich. He and his partners are about to sell to an HMO.
Everything seems to be going great until Dr. Dolittle almost gets into a car
accident with a dog. A bump on his head brings back the voices. Is he
going nuts, are life's stresses too much, or does Dr. John just need to find
his inner child?
The rest is a rather silly man-gets-in-touch-with-soul type movie, except for the animals. They have all the good lines. There's the lascivious German shepherd that can't control himself even when he's pleading his reformation on the way to being clipped. The pigeon couple; she's a nag, he's a wimp. There are the quarreling rats, the neurotic terrier, the tiger, and of course Lucky, the dog Dr. Dolittle hit in the car accident. To his credit Murphy let's the animals have their say while he plays straight man to their lines. One other thing about Murphy's acting; Dr. Dolittle is not the least bit comfortable around animals. When Dr. Dolittle has to catch daughter Maya's (Pratt) guinea pig, he holds it in a folded pillow so he doesn't have to touch it. (Having similar feelings about pets, I was amused by Dr. Dolittle's behavior around animals.) What's funny about this is, apparently Murphy wasn't acting. But this all added up to a fun movie. I recommend it.
This is really an everage run of the mill kids movie based losely on the the Doctor Dolittle film. Eddie Murphy plays the doctor who finds that he can comminicate with all animals.This leads to every type of animal coming to him for help for their medical problems. The Special affects are not very special but i'm sure a lot of kids would love this film. There are a few funny one liners that will go straight over childrens heads and that are quite funny but all in all this film is just plain OK. 6 out of 10.
I've always thought Eddie Murphy did comedy better than action, but now I have to add honesty and integrity to his repetoire. He does such a wonderful family film here that it's almost hard to believe he got his start on Saturday Night Live. The mere concept of talking with the animals is created quite believably in the film even though you have to consider the detail that would go into such a feat actually existing. Considering the sheer diversity of the animal kingdom and the limited scope of animals to rationalize, Murphy as Dolittle would have to have considerable telepathic and clairvoyant prowess as well the data-crunching power of a computer in order to decipher instantly the motivations and inclinations of two to three animals at one time as well as come up with the human equivalent of the animal's personality. The concept of animals conversing inter-species wise would have to involve some sort of Mother Earth Theory that all animals wild and domesticated are linked by a central innate consciousness. That said, this movie is quite enjoyable despite the theories and examination it entails. Actress Kristen Wilson as Murphy's wife is a very lovely presence to the movie and former child actress Raven-Symone is becoming a lovely young actress herself far removed from that annoyingly unbearable kid she played on The Cosby Show. The rest of the cast are second stringers to the animal cast whose voices are brought to life by the vocal talents of Norm MacDonald, Julie Kavner, John Leguizamo, Garry Shandling, Jenna Elfman, Gilbert Gottfried and sounding eerily like James Belushi, Albert Brooks. This is one wonderful movie that belongs in your video collection at home.
I have seen a fair few comparisons to the 1967 film with Rex Harrison, now I saw the 1967 film as a kid and kind of liked it but it is something I need to re-watch. This film is basically a remake, minus the songs, and while it isn't brilliant and no masterpiece in any shape or form, it does have its good things. The film's plot is very slight, and the script has its weak spots while having some funny ones as well. And there is sometimes uneven pacing and direction. But it is nicely filmed, and the music is nice enough. The acting was also pretty good. Eddie Murphy does a serviceable job as John Dolittle, his role is not really like the ones he had in Beverly Hills Cop or Trading Places which also happens to two of his better movies, but he does well, and I will say he has been worse and he's been in worse films too. Kyla Pratt looks lovely and acts nicely as Maya, and Ossie Davis is good as well. The voice cast carry the picture as the animals who (along with the above average effects) steal the show. Consisting of the likes of Garry Shandling, John Leguizamo and Gilbert Gottfried they do great jobs, however Oliver Platt and Peter Boyle have little to do. Overall, a nice watch but nothing exceptional. 6/10 Bethany Cox
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Doctor Dolittle (1998): Dir: Betty Thomas / Cast: Eddie Murphy, Ossie Davis, Oliver Platt, Peter Boyle, Kyla Pratt: Not nearly as good a remake as The Nutty Professor, which also starred Eddie Murphy, but this film does promise Murphy as a doctor who communicates with animals. The whole "Dolittle" bit of the name kind of gives the impression that he is lazy but in this film it is just the formula driven screenwriter. Plot is crammed together with the animals stealing the show. Among them is Lucky the dog who uses the toilet and blows his nose. He is nearly mashed by Murphy's car and becomes one of the family. Director Betty Thomas previously made the far superior Private Parts as well as the about as inferior The Brady Bunch Movie. She never establishes these jokes regarding animals with inhuman tendencies and they greater spiral the film down into the deepest of kitty litter proportions. Murphy seems to be the ideal choice for this role but after the premise is established it is just a one joke charade with Murphy reacting to the chaos. Ossie Davis, Oliver Platt and Peter Boyle are stuck in cardboard supporting roles. Special effects are similar to Babe but unlike that wonderful film Doctor Dolittle doesn't have a story to sell. It is another example of filmmakers cashing in of the success of yesteryear but creating a big budget and over-hyped dog show. Score: 2 / 10
Too bad neither the animals or Eddie Murphy had anything to say worth
saying. this movie is just bland.
Children's movie? Well, if you're trying to get them to take a nap, then maybe. It's just 90 minutes of some eye-wrenchingly poor animal lip animation to quips that aren't funny. And the lip-sync'ing makes the old Godzilla films look brilliantly done by comparison. Meanwhile, Eddie "Pluto Nash" Murphy drones on with a suppressed understated delivery that is painful to experience. Apparently, he's trying to modify his old manic persona, but to what? In short, all the magic and wonder of the 1967 original version is lost in this re-imagining, or whatever it is. A town wants to bully some forest creatures and blame them for doing bad stuff. No, really. And Pluto Nash can psycho-babble with them. Things chain along with some stale jokes to a dull uninspired conclusion with no surprises.
Rent the '67 movie. Or some old Yogi Bear cartoons.
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