Plot: What’s it about?
Dr. Dolittle (Eddie Murphy) has come to grips with his special power, so he no longer panics when an animal starts talking with him. And this is a good thing too, as the animals need his help and within three weeks, Dolittle needs to save an entire forest! A ruthless land developer Joseph Potter (Jeffrey Jones) plans to level the forest, which is home to countless animals, including the rare Pacific Western bear. This bear is endangered and in order to survive, it needs to find a mate and repopulate the forests. Dolittle runs into a bear named Archie, who needs to find himself a partner and head out to the woods, to further his cause. So now Dolittle is in a race against time, not only to find Archie a mate, but also to prevent the forest from being demolished. But he won’t be in this mission alone, as a wealth of animal friends will be by his side, working together to solve their own problems, as well as pitch to save the forest area.
After the box office success of Dr. Dolittle and the surge in Eddie Murphy’s audience drawing power, I knew a sequel had to be in the works and as it turns out, I was correct in my assumptions. I found the first film to be humorous and entertaining, but due to the storyline involved, I wondered how the sequel would be handled. But it all pans out well enough and since Murphy is always present, this is one sequel that matches, perhaps even surpasses the original. The basic premise has been told before, we know the characters, and as such, no time is wasted on these elements and the film is better for it, without a doubt. We do learn more about Dolittle and his family however, so there’s some good development at work, which makes me think we might see a third Dolittle, as far fetched as that sounds. This is by no means a constantly hilarious picture, but it offers a ton of laughs and as such, I am giving it a solid recommendation. I am pleased Fox has issued a loaded disc also, which means whether you purchase or rent, your money’s well spent.
He’s had some ups & downs in his career, but Eddie Murphy seems to be on the rise these days, thanks to a string of box office smashes. He’s done this by going back to comedies and with the Dolittle movies, that means playing toward a family audience. Of course, Murphy’s original success was had via stand-up comedy and he was by no means clean then, but he has proven that he can take on family oriented roles as well. I wouldn’t say his turn in Dr. Dolittle 2 is one of his best performances, but he does supply a lot of laughs and handles his character well, which is about all we can ask for here. You can also see Murphy in such films as The Nutty Professor, Beverly Hills Cop, Trading Places, Coming to America, and Vampire in Brooklyn. The cast also includes Kristen Wilson (Dungeons & Dragons, Bulletproof), Jeffrey Jones (Stay Tuned, Ravenous), and Kevin Pollak (The Usual Suspects, A Few Good Men).
Video: How does it look?
Dr. Dolittle 2 is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. I knew Fox would provide an effective visual treatment here, so I was not surprised by how terrific the movie looks here. The print looks clean as expected, although some slight grain is evident in some of the darker scenes, but nothing to be concerned about. The colors look bright and vivid, but never smear in the least, while flesh tones are warm and natural also. I have no complaints on the contrast end, as black levels look excellent, save those few scenes that display the fine grain. All in all, this is a top notch visual effort, so I doubt anyone will be let down in the least.
Audio: How does it sound?
Although this is a dialogue driven comedy, the included Dolby Digital 5.1 track still provides a solid experience, with no real flaws to discuss. The mix is of course not as active as an action driven track would be, but it is an active one and provides a nice atmosphere, so I see no real reasons to complain there. The surrounds are used to boost the musical soundtrack, as well as juice up the sound effects in some scenes, while the front channels bolster most of the material, just as it should be here. The dialogue remains clean and clear at all times, which means this one gets a solid overall score. This disc also includes 2.0 surround options in English and French, as well as subtitles in English and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This is a special edition after all, so of course, it comes loaded down with all sorts of bonus materials. We’ll start off with an audio commentary with director Steve Carr and producer Heidi Santelli, who offer a solid session, though it isn’t one of the better tracks I’ve listened to. Carr talks a lot about the cast members and how good it was to work with them, but he also chimes in with some real information, like behind the scenes tidbits and such. I can’t imagine giving this track another spin, but I commend Fox for including it, as it was worth a listen. Next you’ll find three featurettes, an HBO behind the scenes piece, a kid’s guide to bears, and of course, one that focuses on the animals that worked in the picture. Although all three are rather brief, it was nice to find them included and of course, kids will love the latter two, since they’re aimed at a younger audience. This disc also houses some NUON enhanced features, two extended sequences, storyboard-to-film comparisons, a music video by The Product G&B, a promo for the soundtrack, twelve television spots, and two of the film’s theatrical trailers.