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DOCTOR DOLITTLE

SYNOPSIS:
Talented physician Dr John Dolittle (Eddie Murphy) allows his medical practice to take priority over his wife and daughters, until he barely misses hitting a stray dog driving home. This incident reawakens a long-suppressed talent he possessed as a child – the ability to talk to the animals. Every member of the animal kingdom is desperately seeking his advice and medical attention, while his two partners prepare to sell out their medical practice to a huge health care conglomerate for a healthy profit.

"Few films of recent memory are more misguided than this appalling film that purports to be based on the classic novels of Hugh Lofting. The idea of contemporising classic literature will always be doomed to fail, such as the recent Great Expectations. Thirty years ago, critics complained how miscast Rex Harrison was as the singing doctor who could talk to the animals, but be that as it may, the film at least succeeded in capturing the essence of the stories, stories that were so inherently British. This time around, the film makers decided on a so-so director to bring a hip Dolittle to the screen, with a menagerie of wisecracking animals whose primary function is to show us all how clever film technology has become. The beauty of the original film, however, and Lofting's wonderful novels, was that Dolittle was able to communicate with the animals in their own language; he wasn't hearing them speak in fluid, articulate, American slang. Dr Dolittle is a film which has turned quaint literary whimsy into vulgar Hollywood. Murphy, a once original comic master, is now bespectacled, conservative, and not only misses the mark as this character, but he's not even mildly amusing. He delivers a cumbersome performance that lacks any sense of vision or clarity. His nineties counterpart, so called, is one Chris Rock [about to be seen in Lethal Weapon 4). Here, he voices the role of a guinea pig, and one can only imagine that Rock's blustering verbosity was funny to him, but the rest of us want to simply strangle both animal and vocal 'talent'. Add to that a dumb script and the unimaginative, dull direction of Betty Thomas, and one ends up with a total misfire. Not even the talents of Aussie cinematographer Russell Boyd can save this film. Will Hollywood never learn?"
Paul Fischer

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0
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BRAD GREEN
Brad is a Sydney-based freelance writer. He regularly contributes arts & fashion articles to Cafe Society magazine, and does a large amount of work as a copywriter for clients within the entertainment industry. Brad is also an experienced music producer & is a director of new production house/ record label— Feature Music.

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We welcome Brad to Urban Cinefile as a contributor.

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DOCTOR DOLITTLE (PG)
(US)

CAST: Eddie Murphy, Ossie Davis, Oliver Pratt

DIRECTOR: Betty Thomas

PRODUCER: John Davis, David T. Friendly, Joseph Singer

SCRIPT: Nat Mauldin, Larry Levin, Neal Jiminez, Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Manzel

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Russell Boyd

EDITOR: Peter Teschner

MUSIC: Richard Gibbs

PRODUCTION DESIGN: William A. Elliott

RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 2, 1998

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Fox

VIDEO RELEASE: September 29, 1999

RRP: $24.95







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