Time: 85 mins.
SYNOPSIS: A successful physician and devoted family man, John Dolittle (Murphy) seems to have the world by the tail, until a long-suppresses talent possessed as a child – the ability to communicate with animals – is suddenly reawakened with a vengeance. Now every creature within squawking distance wants the good doctor's advice, unleashing an outrageous chain of events that turn his world upside down.
BOTTOM LINE: There's one role Eddie Murphy should never play and that's the straight man. In this non-musical retread of the doctor who can communicate with animals, Murphy is forced to feed all the funny lines to the creatures instead of taking them himself. Though I think THE NUTTY PROFESSOR was highly over-indulgent, at least that film gave Murphy a chance to bust lose and create memorable characters. Here, he plays a doctor and family man given an unwelcome gift that causes his personal and professional life to fall to pieces until he can come to grips with being different.
The film knocks you over the head with the message that it's OK to just be yourself, crazy talents and all. Unfortunately, it doesn't let Murphy use his comedic gifts. The sub-plots that deal with his family and business are convoluted, unbelievable and unnecessary. The thing the film does deliver on is funny animals. Sure, most of the humor is lowbrow, but I defy you not to laugh. The animal effects are great and Rock and MacDonald deliver the films biggest laughs as the family guinea pig and a stray dog. They are the stars of this picture. The people are lifeless extras. I saw this movie for free on cable, so I wasn't wholly disappointed with the outcome. I think the fact that I own pets made me enjoy this more than I normally would have.