Saturday, June 12, 2010

Dr. Dolittle

Dr. Dolittle; Fantasy comedy, USA, 1998; D: Betty Thomas, S: Eddie Murphy, Ossie Davis, Kristen Wilson, Oliver Platt, Richard Schiff, Peter Boyle, Jeffrey Tambor

Dr. Dolittle is a seemingly ordinary family man, except that he once had the ability to talk with the animals as a child, though forgot about it as he grew up. But his past is going to return to his life when he one day accidentally hits a dog with his car and understands everything what the animal is saying. His dialogues are quickly broadened to hamsters, pigeons, ducks, goats...As a doctor with a masters degree, he rationally rejects his ability and lands in a mental asylum, but in the end accepts his skill and decides to help the animals. It all culminates with a surgery on a tiger.

The remake of the '67 musical film with the same title, Betty Thomas version of "Dr. Dolittle" is a mostly moderately fun and accessible family comedy that, unlike the original, became a box office hit. Even though it has a pale story, undeveloped and "foggy" situations as well as typically cheap gags here and there for a mainstream film, the stand-out highlight that makes the film easily watchable is again the excellent comic performance by Eddie Murphy, who was used quite often to save thin comedies. At least one of his rants is a small comic jewel (the one when he tries to raise the self-confidence of a tiger who wants to jump from a high story building, where he says: "Remember that song "Eye of the Tiger," from "Rocky 3"? When Rocky was fighting Mr. T, he couldn't beat him - then Apollo Creed played "Eye of the Tiger" for him. Rocky beat the snot out of Mr. T because of "Eye of the Tiger." Because that song moved Rocky inside. Not eye of the moose, eye of the tiger!") whereas some of the interactions with the animals do have some sympathetic charm, especially when the two pigeons are arguing, and one of them (voiced by Julie Kavner) says: "He is a self-hating pigeon". Still, those are just small crumbs of pleasure. When the hero is running through the street at the end, one gets a feeling that a real movie could have started where this one ended, because, though amusing, this comedy leaves rather indifferent.


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