Kiddie movies may have saved Eddie Murphy's career, but just because they have been popular doesn't mean that they're funny. A point proved admirably by "Dr Dolittle 2", which is well-acted and reasonably well-scripted, but can't let a fart joke pass it by.
The premise has a certain amount of promise. John Dolittle, media darling, must turn from animal conversationalist to animal conservationist when a nearby forest is threatened with destruction. If he can reintroduce a rare circus bear into the environment (and help the city bear form a lasting relationship with a native) then the forest will become protected. And if he can't, he must find some way of motivating the animals to work together.
This final idea - that all the animals could collaborate - is by far the best part of the film. It brings with it a wealth of comedic opportunities (a group of cows chanting 'strike', dive-bombing birds) but more importantly manages to convey the film's ostensible message - that humans do not have enough respect for an animal kingdom that they are dependent upon.
Unfortunately it gets almost no screen time. Instead, we are treated to an hour and a half of bears sitting on lavatories, innumerable gas emissions, and a hundred dubious examples of mating humour.
"Dr Dolittle 2" is the kind of film that children may find amusing but their parents will wish that they didn't. There's nothing offensive here, but there's nothing particularly intelligent either. Watch it if you must for the special effects (which are terrifyingly believable), but leave your brain - and the brains of your family - somewhere else.
Read a review of "Dr Dolittle" (1998).
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