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Linda-Marie Singer is the Movie Maven

The Show Biz Maven

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Linda-Marie Singer - Click to Enlarge Doctor Doolittle
Dolittle Movie
Click to Enlarge Reviewed by Show Biz Maven

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Bring the Pooper Scooper!

"Why do dogs sniff each other's butts?"

How's that for scintillating dialogue? The Show Biz Maven refuses to beat around the fire hydrant with this one, cautioning audiences to bring the pooper-scooper to "Doctor Doolittle." Think what you like, but your Show Biz Maven was uncomfortable in the movie theatre surrounded by a bunch of hyenas - and I'm not referring to the animals. This is what happens when you see a film that's raunchy and rude, and that has little in common with the 1967 version starring the elegant Rex Harrison as the highbred doctor who has a charming way with animals.

Now it's Eddie Murphy's turn to play Dr. John Doolittle, a family physician who treats wounded creatures appearing magically at the house he shares with his wife and two daughters. Trying to conceal his unique power of conversing with the animal kingdom, he excuses himself with lame gags that portray him as someone on the brink of a nervous breakdown.

Where does a man like Dr. John Doolittle get such extraordinary powers? This is really the question that screenwriters Nat Mauldin and Larry Levin attempt to answer with a flashback. We see Murphy as a little boy talking with his pet pooch, his only friend, while his father (Ossie Davis) is looking worried that his son will never mature. His answer is to give away the dog, and while we remember this scene, Murphy seems to blank out his past rather than rebel against it.

Years later, we see Doctor Doolittle as successful but bored. He has a steady clientele but they're all painted as buffoons in an effort to dispense with the giggles. When the doctor and his partners are offered a buy-out through a big conglomerate, Murphy seems relieved, eager to change his life.

Enter the animals! A scruffy dog named Lucky is nearly run over by Doolittle and lets him know how stupid he is. "Are you talking to ME?" (Sorry, wrong movie) Understandably, Murphy fights the temptation to believe. He rationalizes that he's overworked until his daughter's pet guinea pig nudnicks him. That's it! Before you know it, he's overrun by pets with problems. The real problem, and this is according to your Show Biz Maven, is that the animals were made to work overtime by the studio, and probably did speak among themselves about what to do. That's why we might be seeing a sequel starring Sally Field, a union organizer who has a love affair with an owl who tells her that he really likes her.

But the Show Biz Maven digresses. On the plus side, director Betty Thomas keeps things afoot so to speak, yet even Murphy's downplaying doesn't do the trick in capturing the essence of a once enchanting story. Unfortunately, today's rendering can't disclose the cheap shots disguised as humor:

  • A thermometer gets stuck up a cat's

  • Pigeons unleash doo doo at unsuspecting victims

  • A guinea pig gets flushed down the toilet

  • A rat gasses it up and Doolittle gives it mouth-to-mouth resuscitation

As the film's backdrop, San Francisco is wasted and misused, but not as misused as Hugh Lofting's lovely 1920s stories about a kind hearted doctor who walks, talks, and squawks with the animals.

With love & knishes from your Show Biz Maven.

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Last Revised: Friday, May 15, 2015 06:38:58 AM
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