When all else fails, toss a talking bear and Lil' Zane with a bandanna into the mix, right?
We continue our look back at the bad film choices of Raven-Symone Christina Pearman (and, by extension, Edward Regan Murphy) with 2001's Dr. Dolittle 2, a sequel no one asked for to a film no one asked for (1998's Dr. Dolittle). Fun times.
Now, I'll be honest. When I was a 13-year-old, possibly because I had a crush on Raven-Symone, I thought this movie was...passable. It wasn't, like, good or anything, but it was passable family comedy gobbledygook. If they would've gotten rid of Lil' Zane (because just no) and put ya boy SOTB in the mix, we could've made movie magic. But, alas, I probably would've been cast as the chubby best friend to Kyla Pratt's character...if they gave Kyla Pratt's character any real depth.
Seriously, does anyone remember her character's name from this series? It was something with an M, like a late-90s R&B songstress. Mary? Monifah? Monica? Maya! That's it. Whoo, glad that we got that gem out the way. She was kinda pointless in the first two films. But then, because I guess even Raven-Symone had her limits of suck, Maya became the star of the show.
|Dear Kyla Pratt, I'm sorry that you had to do these films.|
Ugh, I can't even get started on this WIRTB. I'm that upset over the fact that the Dr. Dolittle series was a thing at all, much less a five-movie series! Where do I start?
We get the main animal of the first film, Lucky the Dog, telling us about Dr. John Dolittle (Murphy) and his gift of gab with the furries. No, not those furries, or this would be a completely different film. He's famous now, since he saved a talking tiger's life or something. He also seems to be a bit of an absent dad, since he randomly comes back home from a trip and gives his family gifts instead of, you know, love and affection and shit. His wife gets something and Maya gets a stereotype of a chameleon. Why is the chameleon named Pepito when chameleons are typically not found anywhere near any Spanish-speaking countries is beyond me.
Racial humor for the kids, I guess?
Anyhoo, Dr. D's oldest kid, Charisse, played by Raven-Symone, is fucking up in school. I guess she won't be needing that College Road Trip after all. So, like any rich parent in the early 2000s would do, he takes away her cell phone and expects that to bring things back to normal. Wrong. We then get introduced to Eric, played by Lil' Zane (seriously, was Zane giving Raven the Orlando Brown treatment at this point or something? When was he ever a thing?), who's Charisse's boyfriend.
He's not very interesting, except he's supposed to be kind of a "street guy" or something. I think. Either that or Dr. D thinks Eric's a thug (stereotype much, Eddie?). In fact, I can think of so many other guys they could've gotten aside from Lil' Zane. In case you haven't caught on, I don't like Lil' Zane. Maybe it's because he was always posing shirtless whereas I had to cover preteen moobs, even as a soccer player. Jealousy for his faux-Usher body aside, he wasn't that interesting of a rapper and worse as an actor. I'm sure that Zane Copeland is an okay person, but artistically, he sucked.
Anyway, where the fuck was I? Too many asides.
Oh yeah. So, the main plot of the story kicks in when animals ransack Charisse's birthday party and request Dr. D go meet with the...ugh...The Godbeaver. And yes, it's as cliched Godfather parody as you think it is. The Godbeaver needs Dr. D's help to save the forest, because tacked on environmental plots are exactly what we need in a movie about Raven-Symone discovering she's The Special.
SPOILERS? But, Raven's The Special and can also talk to animals like dear old dad...which would have conventional minds think that she'd be the next Dr. Dolittle. But, nope. Even Raven "I just goof around and try to be Lucille Ball even though I'm far worse at it" Symone has more dignity than that. And any shred of dignity this movie had goes out the window when it's revealed that the main plot of the film also involves cub-on-cub action.
No, not that kind of cub, or this would, again, be a different movie.
See, Dr. Dolittle has been tasked in getting some rare-ass bears (Archie and Eva) to bone in order to save the forest. If they bone and are together, since they're endangered species and whatnot, the Big Business folks can't bulldoze the fuck out of the place. It's one of the most cliched plots I've seen, family picture or not.
And speaking of this being a "family picture," why do PG movies feel they just have to add in that extra "adult joke" (which is usually something sexual or fart-related) to make people say "yay, this is for everyone?" Why can't they just focus on making a good movie with relateable characters, storylines, and the like versus trying to push an imaginary boundary? Fuck out of here with all that shit. Yes, Shrek and movies like Shrek in the early 2000s made it cool to be PG again. But, this movie doesn't work as PG.
It doesn't work as PG because there are too many PG-13 caliber jokes squeezed in and half-assed to make it more accessible to the kids. Fuck that noise. The first one was PG-13 and, while it was still half-assed, it managed to be watchable. This movie is trash of the highest degree. And it sucks, because Raven-Symone and Eddie Murphy are somewhat enjoyable in this. The dynamic they share as daddy and daughter is well-written enough that it could be real. But, then, the directors ruin the tender moments by following them up with poop jokes or Eddie Murphy teaching a bear how he should fuck...or something.
God, this movie is ass. Where the fuck was I?!
Archie keeps trying to woo the girl bear and he ends up getting tranquilized because of his fuckery. Big Business offers Dr. D a deal to get some cash on the side, but he rejects it because duh. Dr. D realizes that That's Not So Raven can talk to the animals, so he uses this to rally up the mammal troops. Said troops free Archie and they all converge on Big Business and are all like "fuck you, don't tear down the forest." It works. Everyone lives happily ever after. There's a subplot involving Dr. D wanting to get intimate with his wife, but no one cares because his wife barely has anything of substance to add to the movie.
No, seriously. Wifey D is mostly there for stern looks and "John, maybe you should..." moments. Yay progressive movements, I guess? FUCK THIS MOVIE! A movie about talking animals shouldn't be this hard to make enjoyable or even watchable. It really shouldn't. The series goes for fading star power over concrete writing. It uses fart jokes instead of intelligently-constructed jokes because kids and families only laugh when someone almost shits themselves, apparently. I'll even go as far to say that it reduces a possible strong character in Charisse to a whiny, teenager-y stereotype who just happens to share the Gift of Gab by the time we get to the second movie. At least in the first, she had her moments of teenage rebellion, but they felt real.
Nothing about this movie feels real and that's my biggest complaint with it. I've seen cash grabs that, at least, try to have a heart. This one is cold, hollow, and quite possibly, one of the worst films I've ever seen. And I saw Tom Cruise in War of the Worlds and Jaden Smith in After Earth.
Do better, guys. Please. Just do better. And make sure this series is dead AF.