June 22, 2001 -- Eddie Murphy is back for another go-round as Dr. Doolittle. Unlike most sequels, this is better than the original. There is an actual plot, and the animals are funnier.
In this film Dr. Dolittle (Eddie Murphy of "Bowfinger") hears of a plan to cut down a forest, which will destroy the habitat of many animals. The animals, led by a funny godfather-type beaver, appeal to Dr. Dolittle for help. He comes up with a plan to save the forest with the help of an endangered species, a bear named Ava. If Dolittle can get her together with Archie, a circus bear of the same species, the forest can be saved. Never mind that there are also wolves in the forest which are also an endangered species.
Archie, however, doesn't like to leave the comforts of show business for a life in the woods. He doesn't know how to hunt, fish, hibernate, or how to impress Ava. Somehow, Dolittle has to instill Archie with confidence and survival skills. Meanwhile, Dolittle has troubles of his own. His rebellious teenaged daughter Charisse Dolittle (a grown up Raven-Symone, formerly of the Cosby TV show) and his neglected wife (Kristen Wilson), aren't happy living in a cabin in the woods while Dolittle is trying to save the animals.
While there is the usual array of sexual and bathroom humor jokes in the film (why are joke writers these days unable to get their heads out of the anal tract?), they didn't seem as bad as the ones in the original film, or maybe I'm just getting resigned to this kind of humor. The plot does actually move forward on the strength of its characters, although most of the best characters are animals.
The actors, especially Murphy, and Jeffrey Jones of "Heartbreakers," who plays evil timber baron Joseph Potter, do a fine job. Murphy is a great comic talent. He seems to be able to make even bad material funny. The animal trainers, digital effects people and voice-over actors are also top notch. Funny animals include Pepito the chameleon who has trouble blending in, Joey the raccoon ("I've got rabies. I can bite people, but I can only do so much."), and Lucky the lusty dog are among the many comic animals. Voices include Norm MacDonald, Lisa Kudrow and Steve Zahn. Murphy, once again, is the comic catalyst for the film, as he was in the first film. This time, however, he has more help. This film rates a C+.
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