Directed by: Steve Carr
Written by:Larry Levin
Starring: Eddie Murphy, Kristen Wilson, Jeffrey Jones, Kevin Pollak
Released: July 5, 2001
Grade: B+

I didn’t care for the original (released in 1998) but the follow-up to Dr. Dolittle is a much improved product.  Dr. John Dolittle’s ability to talk to animals has now made him a celebrity around the world.  It’s reached a point where the constant hassling from animals has left him no time to spend with his wife and children.

At his daughter’s 16th birthday dinner, John is interrupted by Joey the Raccoon who comes tapping at his window.  He asks that John come into the woods and meet “The Beaver”, a mafia-like figure who is both respected and feared by the other animals of the forest.  The Beaver has called on Dr. Dolittle as he believes he’s the only person that can help them - the forest is to be logged by a corporate giant and with government approval, there isn’t much time until they’re all out of home.

With the help of a friendly zoologist, John finds a female Pacific Western bear in the forest that is on the endangered species list.  Being the only resident of her species, the court refuses to recognise her right to survival leaving John searching for a solution.  Looking for a mate, he finds a circus bear named Archie but he’s long been domesticated.  Can John break nature’s rules and reintroduce Archie into the wild to save the species (and the forest)?  Not only can he do it, he’ll make sure it’s a hilarious journey.

We aren’t talking brilliant comedy here but it’s funny enough to appeal to both adults and kids.  In the first film, much time was wasted introducing Dr. Dolittle and how he first realised he could talk with animals.  That problem is not replicated in the sequel.  Despite the improvement, the film still feels like you’re watching a bunch of unrelated skits.  Many scenes don’t flow but to their credit, they’re still amusing.

Eddie Murphy is super and it’s nice to see the “real” Eddie for a change.  In the past three years, he’s played a voice twice (in Shrek and Mulan) and in most every other film, he’s covered himself in make-up to play more than one character (The Nutty Professor, The Nutty Professor 2, Bowfinger).  Murphy has a great sense of humour but is more controlled in this film than his previous works.  I believe it works in the film’s favour.

How many celebrities did they get to provide animal voices in this film?  Just when I’m racking my brain to recognise one particular voice, another chimes in leaving me even more perplexed.  A simple check of the Internet Movie Database tells the full list includes Andy Dick, Jamie Kennedy, Lisa Kudrow, Norm Macdonald, Mandy Moore, Frankie Muniz, Michael Rapaport, Molly Shannon, Steve Zahn and even Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Dr. Dolittle 2 isn’t going to win any awards but it’s innocent enough to earn my approval and recommendation.  A silly film that makes you laugh at just right times.