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Click above to purchase "Dr. Dolittle 2: Special Edition" at amazon.com

 

Dr. Dolittle 2
Special Edition

review by Zach B.

 

Rated PG

Studio: Fox

Running Time: 87 minutes

Starring Eddie Murphy, Kristen Wilson, Jeffrey Jones, Kevin Pollak, Raven-Symone

Written by Larry Levin

Directed by Steve Carr

Retail Price: $26.98

Features: Audio Commentary with Director Steve Carr and Co-Producer Heidi Santelli, The Making Of Dr. Dolittle 2, Extended Scenes with Optional Commentary, Bear Necessities: A Kids Guide To Grizzlies, Making Movie Magic with Rhythm and Hues, Storyboard Sequences, "Wild On The Set" with Tank The Bear, NUON Enhanced Features, "Cluck Cluck" Music Video, Music Promo Spot, TV Spots, "Ice Age" Teaser, Theatrical Trailers

Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround, English Closed Captions, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Scene Selection (24 Scenes)

Released: October 23rd, 2001

The summer of 2001, was of course, the summer of sequel. And that June, one of the first sequels out on the market was "Dr. Dolittle 2" and did go on to become of the summer's biggest hits. Based on a character from Hugh Lofting's stories (and not so much the original movie), the first "Dr. Dolittle" with Eddie Murphy was released in the summer of 1998 and went on to become of the biggest hits of that summer. A sequel only seemed to make sense, and three years later we were treated to one. However, while the sequel did cross 100 million, it was considered a disappointment to Fox. The opening was rather weak and while the film held steady, it failed to make as much as the original. On the plus side though, it did score much better reviews, a lot of praise even than the first, which was attacked by the critics. I did enjoy the first, and while I missed the sequel in theaters, here was my chance to see it...

This next installment finds the good doctor (Eddie Murphy) juggling a few conflicts. After meeting with a mysterious "family" beaver, Dolittle becomes involved to help save a forrest from ED ROONEY HIMSELF, JEFFREY JONES who wants to level it off. It seems that the forest can be saved if they can get a bear named Ava to mate, so they call in a circus performer bear, named Archie, to try and get the two together so the land can be saved. In the meantime, the doc also has to come to terms with his growing daughter who listens to music, talks on her cell phone and messes with her boyfriend while ignoring just about everything else.

Judging from the plot summary above, some of you can probably tell this movie is really nothing new. It's just another animal endangerment plot that is a little clichéd and the like, it has that manufactured plot feel. Still, with that, it's actually still enjoyable. I liked how Dr. Dolittle had to deal with his teenage daughter and typical problems parents must face at that time, but I really wish there was more of it. This installment, however, is more family oriented. I recall that the original did use a lot of crude animal jokes and involved the animals a lot more. Animals are in this, but it's more of a focus on Archie (though old and new Dolittle friends pop up). Here, there are far less crude jokes and the language is cleaned up a bit. They aimed this installment more for families with a PG rating, while the original had PG-13. The result is a cleaner picture, but while it has its moments, I think it's less funnier. I guess I still prefer the original redoing than its sequel.

What I disliked about the first Dr. Dolittle is that I felt Eddie Murphy was just part of the background. The animals were the real comic foil in the first one, and I felt there were many chances to show off Murphy's energetic acting style there but it was never put to the test. He was simply a doctor who thought he was crazy and no one believed his special talent. Murphy played it really low key and there wasn't so much for him to do, and that was a disappointment since the original had so many chances to really make it more nutty. Murphy was just part of the background there and I didn't feel that he was truly in the movie. It was a bit bland. However, this installment is thankfully a much different story. Murphy is a lot more intense and a lot more active in the plot. Murphy is not dull here, he comes to full life and really, really brings a lot more with his character. He's a lot crazier and a lot more in-depth. His role is really more expressional and he does talk a lot more in this one. Murphy, to me, is one of the greatest comics and comic actors of our time. I'm glad to see him screaming more, showing more actions and being more conflicted with his emotions. There's a lot more to his performance, and it certainly shows here. Murphy is his own comic foil here and really expands himself, which really does please. I'm glad to see Murphy taking action in this film.

Director Steve Carr (Next Friday) sets the movie at a good pace, as he sets up some fine shots. The editing here is good as well, and this movie is brisk. Without credits, it's just a little over eighty minutes. Not a long feature to sit through at all. Yet since it's so short, there's not too much and I wish there could have been a little more to Larry Levin's (who co-wrote the original) script.

The special effects here are good, as when you see the animal the animals talk you see their mouths move all thanks to computer graphics. It doesn't look fake or corny, it looks rather natural and not so gimmicky. So in all, "Dr. Dolittle 2" doesn't live up to the original to me, but it's very good entertainment families can enjoy. It's a satisfying, though if a little unoriginal, viewing experience.

Fox has provided a 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer for the film, and the result is a little bit less than sunning. Still, it's pretty good and has a lot of good qualities to it. The transfer seems to struggle a bit during the daytime exterior scenes. There is some shimmering during some scenes as well as noise. Color saturation is decent, though sometimes I felt colors were oversaturated. The halo effect is also apparent during some parts (which I really dislike), while now and then you'll face some scratches, nicks, pieces of dirt and blemishes. However, Chapters 19 and 20 look pretty awful, with constant annoyances such as those (those needed a good clean-up). Black levels and detail are solid. Despite contrast being a bit high in some scenes and the annoyances that make scenes appear a little smearing and not full cleaned-up, this is a very good transfer that viewers will be pleased with.

The English 5.1 Dolby Digital track is also a bit underwhelming. It didn't pack the punch I was hoping for. Dialogue is crisp and clear as it has no distortion or sound muffled. Other sounds don't get in the way of it. The music, whether it is a light score from David Newman or loud rap music, is well mixed. .1 LFE is pretty good, but the animal action, whether it's bears roaring or the animals pulling their antics, just didn't sound as active as I hoped for. I didn't feel that I was directly being put into the action. Though this track is a bit disappointing, it's still above average. English Dolby Surround and French Dolby Surround tracks are included, while English closed captions, English subtitles and French subtitles are squeezed onto the disc.

This "special edition" is okay, but I guess it has the banner since the movie did score decent numbers at the box office and as a selling point. However, it is far from being packed, yet there are some worthwhile supplements.

We first start off with an Audio Commentary with Director Steve Carr and Co-Producer Heidi Santelli . This is a nice session, as the two seem to be friends and as Carr explains, partners for quite a long time. In any case, Carr's accent can be annoying, but you get used to it. The two make jokes, but Carr pretty much dominates much of the track (Heidi often laughs at his remark). Carr offers some great information, as he praises his cast and crew. He discusses some challenges, how Carr took some people from his first film, "Next Friday" and other projects. It makes it feel more like a look back as Carr points out his friends. Still, there is information about the production that is worthwhile, but I wish it was a bit more technical. Overall, they have a good time and this track compliments the film very nicely. They are energetic, there are no pauses and just keep on talking.

The Making Of Dr. Dolittle 2 is not your essential promotional featurette. It's divided into two nifty parts. One feels just a little promotional while the other part isn't. The first part, which is great, takes look back at Eddie Murphy's career as Murphy actually sits down, talks about some of his key films in brief and makes his comments and offers his insight on them. It's actually really nice, and maybe the closest we'll get to a commentary by Murphy. We see a few of his landmark films from the eighties, and also some of his better and more popular work work from the nineties ("Life," "The Nutty Professor" and "Bowfinger"). The second part is all about making the sequel. Interviews with producer John Davis, Jeffrey Jones, Kevin Pollak, Murphy, Steve Carr, Heidi Santelli, Kyla Pratt, Kristen Wilson, head animal trainer Mark Forbes and others. There are clips from the film and behind the scenes footage, but the cast and crew reflect about the plot, working with the animals and other such. We also get a view into the voice over work and the stars recording, such as Lisa Kudrow, Frankie Muniz, Andy Dick, Michael Rappaport and Steve Zahn (they are also interviewed). Overall, it's the best from both worlds, but the "cool" slow-motion and fast editing effects kind of make it annoying.

The Extended Scenes section is available with two scenes: "The Jail" and "Mr. Porter Signs The Document" (which has messed up audio and has no optional commentary). The scenes have timecodes and are in non-anamorphic widescreen, but appear to be in good shape (while "The Jail" features special effects and all). "The Jail" is actually more of an alternative scene, but the commentary from Carr and Santelli explains the cut, so check it out.

Bear Necessities: A Kids Guide To Grizzlies is of course, a feature aimed for kids where they can learn about bears. With clips from the film and all sorts of footage of bears in action, this nice supplement is hosted by the general curator of the Los Angeles Zoo, Michael Dee. You learn about the habitat bears, their location and all sorts of information. It may not appeal to everyone, but sure does fit in the style of the film. Very nicely done and has quite a good amount of info.

Making Movie Magic with Rhythm and Hues is a look at certain scenes and their special effects build-up with commentary hosted by Doug Smith and Gary Noland who did visual effects on the film. They talk how they did some things and keep things going, so if you like this sorta deal, which can be interesting, it is worth watching.

There are Storyboard Sequences: "The Doctor's Office," "Paging Charisse," "Is this Biggy Mac?," "Archie Learns About Bears" and "Too Much Ice Cream." These sequences are essentially a split screen comparison of the storyboards and the final film, so if you love these and want to see the original visualization to what's on screen, you will enjoy this.

"Wild On The Set" with Tank The Bear is a program that aired on cable television's Animal Planet, and this feature has clips from the movie and is a nice program about the bear who played Archie. Interviews with head trainer Doug Seus are included, plus footage of Tank doing his own thing, on the set filming and clips from the film. This is pretty neat as it shows how animals on the set being trained and how they accomplish that. So if you are interested, do check it out.

Rounding the disc out is the Cluck Cluck Music Video by The Product G&B feature Wyclef, Music Promo Spot, two non-anamorphic Theatrical Trailers (though one was really a teaser), twelve TV Spots and a preview for Fox's upcoming CGI release Ice Age (due out March 2002) in non-anamorphic widescreen and 5.1 Dolby Digital (it sounds great!). Also, there are some NUON Enhanced Features on the disc, if you have a NUON player. Fox is slowly releasing more and more NUON enhanced DVDs.

This sequel is by no means bad, and is a decent family film all ages can enjoy. The presentation is pretty good, as well as the supplements. It's worth a rental, but if you loved the movie, it's worth getting for your library.

(3/5 - NOT included in final score)

(4/5)

(3/5)

(3/5)

(3.5/5, NOT an average)

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