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A Doctor Dolittle (Eddie Murphy) finds out that he can understand what animals are saying. And the animals find out that he understands. Unfortunately, the word of Dolittle's ability is spreading quickly. Soon, many animals from rat to horse flock to his place to get medical advice. But his colleagues suspect he's going mad, and as the clinic Dolittle used to work for is about to being taken over for a huge amount of money, what to do? Meanwhile, his family is close to breaking apart. Until a circus tiger falls seriously ill.

"If you're looking for a healthy dose of nonsense, Dr Dolittle is a good choice. An unadulterated popcorn no-brainer, it's a crazy premise that is executed with plenty of charm and comedic twists. If John Dolittle is surprised to rediscover his hidden talents of talking to the animals, the animals are equally surprised that they can understand him.

The script is clever and the witty lines just keep on coming. ('If dogs can't talk... what do you think barking is? An involuntary spasm?'; Pigeon - 'The way he looks at a robin's breast is disgusting...') Plus there's the star turn by the irrepressible Eddie Murphy, and the animals are simply delightful. You know what they say - never work with animals or children. Murphy works with both here and still comes out the star! Stuart Little Meets What Women Want. Dr Dolittle is funny, stupid and very entertaining.

We meet talking dogs, cats, sheep, ducks, a goat, a pig ('obviously not a kosher establishment'), an owl, guinea pig, horse, a French monkey with a drinking problem and a tiger with suicidal tendencies. There's a throw-away line by Lucky the dog impersonating Austin Powers, and seeing a black and white clip from the old television favourite Mr Ed with sidekick Wilbur is a nice touch. Murphy is in fine form and much of the magic comes from the fact that we actually believe the dialogue that is going on between Dr Dolittle and the animals. Of course, the reality is that Murphy obviously spent most of the movie talking to himself - and he does it superbly. It's Murphy's film and it's a genuine audience pleaser.

The soundtrack is upbeat and San Francisco looks great through the lens of Russell Boyd's camera. There are no features except for the theatrical trailer and a handful of subtitled options; the film is the entertainment, which can be enjoyed in sharp image quality and crisp digital sound.

I watched the DVD with my two Burmese felines; both Mephisto and Napoleon were mesmerized - or so they said!
Louise Keller

Published May 3, 2001

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CAST: Eddie Murphy, Ossie Davis, Oliver Platt

DIRECTOR: Betty Thomas

RUNNING TIME: 82 minutes


DVD RELEASE: March 14, 2001

Theatrical Trailer, Widescreen - letterbox version 16:9, Subtitles: Czech, Danish, English,Finnish, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish, English for the Hearing Impaired

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