Before the opening credits are over, we’ve seen bathroom jokes and sexual humor, but at least this time it’s rated PG.
It really is a shame, because Eddie Murphy is just great as Dr. Dolittle, content to be the straight man to an adorable assortment of wise-cracking animals. And the story is a cute one. It’s a twist on the old classic “Born Free.” Dolittle needs to introduce a tame bear into the forest so that he can mate with the last female of their endangered species, in order to protect the forest from developers. Steve Zahn and Lisa Kudrow provide voices for the two bears so deliciously perfect that we want them to get together as much as Dolittle does. Meanwhile, Dolittle has some problems at home with a teen-aged daughter who has a new boyfriend (rapper Lil’ Zane) and a secret she isn’t ready to discuss.
Parents should know that the movie is raunchier than the usual PG, with a lot of bathroom humor and sexual references (kids may ask what it means to be “in heat”), but it is much milder and sweeter than other Murphy vehicles like the PG-13-rated first episode and the “Nutty Professor” movies.
Families who see this movie should talk about the difficulty of responding to the needs of the family and the responsibility to help others. They may also want to talk about the way that children sometimes feel embarassed by their parents, and the importance of listening to the people you love. Families might want to spend some time in a nature preserve and discuss ways to make sure that animals are treated with respect and dignity.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Cats and Dogs.” They might like to see the original “Dr. Dolittle” movie, a musical starring Rex Harrison.