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Movie Review

Doctor Dolittle

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude humor and language

Reviewed by: Kyle Suggs
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Comedy
Length:
85 min.
Year of Release:
1998

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Ossie Davis, Oliver Platt, Richard Schiff, Kristen Wilson / Director: Betty Thomas / Released by: 20th Century Fox

Who ever thought animals had so much to say?

Fresh off his success with “Mulan”, Eddie Murphy is at it again with this remake of the 1967 classic, “Doctor Dolittle”. Based on the literature of Hugh Lofting, Dr. Dolittle has the ability to communicate with animals.

As a 5 year old youth, John Dolittle (Dari Smith), demonstrated his uncanny ability with the family dog. After learning much from the loyal canine and after a lot of disbelief from his family and clergy, Dolittle becomes disheartened to his gift and suppresses all memories of it until his adulthood. As an adult, Dolittle (Murphy), is a very successful surgeon, husband and father of two. The main story centers around a merger of the hospital where he practices. Dolittle is essential for the success of the multi-million dollar deal. However, his powers miraculously reappear, putting a monkey wrench (pardon the pun) in everyone’s plans.

Dolittle’s youngest daughter, Maya (Kyla Pratt), is adorable as a young genius who wants to fit in. She tries desperately to get her father’s affection to no avail. After overhearing a conversation between her and his father (Ossie Davis), Dolittle reminds his daughter the importance of being and loving yourself. It is also from this experience that he finds this needs to hold true for himself as well. I would have told her to NOT be like herself, but to be like Christ. I guess that is why they do not let me write screenplays.

“Doctor Dolittle” is loaded with toilet humor, which some people will find offensive. The language in the movie, while not as bad as other Murphy movies, could have been cleaner. There are many, many “seat of your pants” references that get old quickly. In fact, most of the gags in this flick dim as the movie progresses.

Chris Rock is the voice of Rodney (the guinea pig) who, though at times is very funny, has some pretty crude and mean things to say. Norm Macdonald is the voice of Lucky (the cynical street mutt) who has some pretty humorous moments. Even though the humor is a bit on the crude side, I found myself laughing. Murphy does not carry this film. When the animals are off screen, so is the humor.

Make no mistake about it. The selling point of “Doctor Dolittle” is unmistakeably the animals (40 species in all). However, with the furry critter’s display of rudeness, vulgarity and arrogance, they almost seemed human and this alone may be just enough for some to stay away from this movie.

Viewer Comments
This movie was excellent! The reasons for it being so fantastic are mostly the hilarious animal voices. I thought the monkey, dog, and tiger were the best. The movie is basically about a man (John Dolittle who hears animal voices and becomes a doctor who helps people and animals. But don’t get your hopes up! This movie has some profanity and sexuality. It is not recommended to people who might be offended by it and/or are under age.
—Aaron Arneson, age 14
My family sat down to watch it this week on video and switched it off after about 25 mimutes. There was simply too much crass and vulgar talk (I hesitate to call it humour). Surely if a film like this is made it should target the family audience. It is hard to see what the frequent vulgarity could possibly add.
—Alan Wilson, age 40
judge for yourself… Do not make your decision about letting your children go to this movie until you see it yourself. You know your children best, and what you are willing to let them see. Do not take someone else’s word for it. I am not saying that this is an excellent movie for children, nor am I saying don’t take them. I am saying make your own decision based on your own observations. Go see it first! Then decide. It is one of the cleanest Eddie Murphy movies ever made. That in itself does not say much, I know. However, there is humor, the animals are really cool, and there is a good ending. It does not leave you hanging, or wondering, or anything. It is just the end of the movie. If they chose to, they could do a sequel. Not that I think there should be one, if it is just like this one. But they did an excellent job of making the animals look like they were really dealing with the people. There are several instances of language that I wish were not there, but I know my children hear much worse at school. In short, my wife and I laughed, and left feeling that the reviews we read were somewhat misleading. Make your own decision.
—Dominic, age 39
animal language… Although a lot of the animals did say some pretty objectionable things a lot of them didn't. There was the male pigeon that was attracted to other females while he was married. Some of the animals were clean speakers.
—Matt, age 11
“this movie is nothing like the books”… I have not yet seen the new Dr. Dolittle movie, but I would like to point out that, based on the clips in the ads, this movie is nothing like the books. There is no swearing, for one thing. The books are quite wholesome, though a little on the fantastical side. Parents who dislike the movie may still enjoy the books!
—Kristen, age 23
“the loud use of the alternate word for donkey”… I went to see this film with the hopes of taking my 7 year old to see it. I was very upset to see what could have been a great family film “sold out” basically on the loud use of the alternate word for donkey used in reference to a persons bottom four times and one of those associated with something being placed up there. I wish someone who has access to Eddie Murphy would confront him and ask him WHY he had to add those 4 uses of it and force respectable parents to keep their young children from seeing this film. It would have been just as funny to use less offensive word in those 4 occasions! There were a few other less loud crude remarks but most would go unnoticed by younger children. If I were Eddie Murphy I would be ashamed to have ruined such a good picture. Unfortunately, too many parents will take their children to see it, and we wonder why our children are growing up like many are?
—Dennis Hobbs, age 47
“6th-grade-boys-bathroom humor”… …Shockingly, this movie was better than I had expected. I was busting up laughing (along with the rest of the theater) at some extremely funny scenes with the talking animals. The plot seems geared towards the younger crowd, but the humor is like the 6th-grade-boys-bathroom type of humor, which I would not recommend for children under the age of 14. If you like the crass kind of humor, this movie is for you.
—Brian Pedigo, age 18
“so many “A” words in it, it wasn’t funny”… If you’ve seen the previews you’ve seen most of the funny stuff. This movie was not worth $4.25. It was passed off as a family movie and yet had so many “A” words in it, it wasn’t funny. I also thought that they could’ve done more with the animals, because when the movie ends you’re left with the “that’s it!” feeling. Three-quarters of the movie was him denying that animals can talk to the animals. The movie is the funniest when Murphy talks along with the animals instead of denying that he can talk to him. Seriously, the previews were the best part.
—Steven Halbert, age 15
“not for children”… I went as a guest to see Dr. Doolittle a few days ago. Being an avid pet owner I like the overall jist of the film. However, as with all Eddie Murphy films I have seen I found the humor too crude and rather tasteless. I also objected to the large amount of profanity that was in the fllm. If it were up to me I would not have picked Eddie Murphy for the starring role. I probably would have also dropped the role of the money-hungry doctor and company as well although good wins out in the film when the other main doctor tried to make it known that money isn’t everything. I also would have omitted a lot of the unnecessary grossness in the film which was not central to the plot in the movie and seemed to be put in purely for humor. I will say this: this latest of Murphy’s efforts is somewhat better than his past work. If I were forced to watch either “The Nutty Professor” or “Dr. Doolittle” again I’d pick “Dr. Doolittle.” However, I am thoroughly disapointed with the movie. I do think the overall scheme of the movie, a man with the ability to talk with animals, is great. I just wish it could have been apporached from a different angle. I would not recommend this for children.
—Jamie, age 24