Directed by Steve Carr, starring Eddie Murphy, Lil' Zane, Jeffrey Jones, Kevin Pollack, Kyla Pratt, Raven Symone and Kristen Wilson.
Worthy sequels? Some would say the former expression is, by its very nature, an oxymoron. Long the holy grail of film directors everywhere, few follow-ups to successful first installments have emerged with their heads up. But what kind of sequel can we expect when chapter one was itself poor? 'Dr Dolittle 2' provides the emphatic answer.
Now that Dr Dolittle's (Eddie Murphy) ability to converse with animals is common knowledge, the good Doctor's business is booming. With pet-owners converging on chez Dolittle seeking treatment for their furry friends, and the doc's pseudo-celebrity status on the rise as a result, life is rosy. Well, professionally at least.
Domestically, life is a little more complicated. With Mrs Dolittle (Kyla Pratt) having to cope with her homestead under constant surveillance from a deluge of animals and their owners, and teenage daughter Charisse (Raven Symone) fretting about incipient adulthood, the doctor must now treat the cracks in his own life. But first, he must rise to another challenge.
When a ruthless industrialist signals his intent to raze acres of forestland for development, the animals solicit the help of Dolittle in saving their habitat. Much to his daughter's chagrin, the doctor agrees. The key to saving the forest lies in helping circus bear Archie adjust to the wilderness as a mate for Ava, a lone Pacific Western bear living in the condemned forest. If Dr D can succeed with his enterprise, the law to protect endangered species can be invoked and the forest will be saved. Cue a series of totally unfunny set pieces where Dolittle strives against the odds to elicit feral instincts from the timid and hopelessly inept Archie. The outcome is as predictable as it is trite.
With a script that creaks under the weight of tired toilet gags, 'Dr Dolittle 2' emerges looking like it has gone ten brutal rounds with a starving bear. Admittedly, the film is aimed at kids, yet is difficult to see how even children could warm to this. Often tedious, occasionally cheap looking and always unimaginative, this should certainly put paid to any plans for a third installment. But, this being Hollywood, I wouldn't bank on it.